Truth is stranger than fiction in Timbuktu, where locals gifted French president Francois Hollande with a replacement camel after the first was eaten.
According to the BBC, Hollande left the original critter in the seemingly-safe hands of a family in Timbuktu back in February, but it was “promptly slaughtered and used in a tagine.”
The camel had been a thank you gift by Malians after France deployed troops to Mali in January to regain control of the north after it had been seized by militant Islamists. Now, after learning of the first camel’s demise, Malian officials promise to send an even “bigger and better-looking camel” straight to Paris.
During the young camel’s handover ceremony, Mr Hollande had joked about using “it as much a I can as a means of transport” around the Parisian traffic jams.
French officials had originally planned to transport the animal to a zoo in France, but because of the complex logistics it was decided instead to entrust the beast to a local family.
The French defence minister informed the president of the camel’s death during a recent cabinet meeting, Valeurs Actuelles magazine reported.
“As soon as we heard of this, we quickly replaced it with a bigger and better-looking camel,” Reuters quoted a Malian official as saying.
“The new camel will be sent to Paris. We are ashamed of what happened to the camel. It was a present that did not deserve this fate.”
France’s defense ministry said it has started the withdrawal of its forces from Mali.