Just like the call of an African Fish Eagle, the roar of a lion as the sun sets over an African plain, I think the Boabab (Adansonia digitate) embodies Africa.
Makuleke, the wildest and most remote part of Kruger National Park is famous for its magnificent birds (including the elusive Pels Fishing Owl), and breathtaking landscapes. It’s a true wilderness, and (in my opinion), the land of Boababs. Baobabs have many strange and different shapes. Each is unique and mystical. When they have no leaves their branches look like roots sticking up, probably this is why they are often referred to ‘upside down trees’.
I know I was on a birding trip, but couldn’t drive past a baobab without taking photos. Here are just a few of my favourite (mostly taken with my cellphone).
A treasure chest of water, food and shelter
Boababs are a treasure chest of food, shelter and water for animals and people living near them. Animals feed on its leaves, flowers and fruits. People make food, clothing, and medicines.
The most fascinating though is that the thick trunk stores water. Not only does this help the tree to survive droughts, but elephants know this secret.
In search of water, elephants will push the trees with their heads, rip the bark open and with access to the water being stored, enjoys a good drink. Some trees are known to store up to 100 000 litres even during drought conditions. Apparently, it’s like eating a watermelon.
This is why so many Boabab trees are badly scared – blame another giant of the bush, this time the elephant.
Notice the size of this Boabab compared to the person standing nearby and the game vehicle behind it.
It takes 200 years before a Boabab flowers
Our world is filled with many wonders, the Boabab is just one of them worthy of our admiration. Sadly, they also suffer environmental change. They are slow growers and young plants are affected by drought and also grazing in rural areas. It takes about 200 years before they flower. It’s a long road to survive before reproducing.
Click Here read about Dr Sarah Venter’s efforts to preserve these magnificent trees with the help of rural woman nursing them until they are strong enough to survive.
I didn’t visit Makuleke for the Boababs, but rather for the birds. The Boababs were just a wonderful by-product. However, after logging over 200 bird species including specials such as Pels Fishing Owl, Racket-tailed Rollers and Lemon Canaries, another blog will follow.
In the meanwhile, enjoy and dream about Boababs, they are truly magical trees (should I be calling them trees? They are really flowering succulents)?