Africans believe their giant baobab trees are sacred, because they seem to live forever and commune with spirits. After they do eventually die, they stand for two more months before they lower to the ground. Their fiber is nutritious especially during droughts, and has medicinal properties. The giant seeds make a delicious drink when mixed with hibiscus flowers. Take baobabs out of Africa and the people there will be the poorer.
Is Climate Change Wiping Out The African Baobabs?
The media are full of reports of Africa’s oldest baobabs, the ‘tree of life’, mysteriously dying. The Mail and The Guardian say, “The trees are a scientific wonder, once capable of living for thousands of years, but now becoming endangered species.” Why is this?
In rural societies, tribes still meet with chiefs in these trees’ shade as a gesture of commitment to solve a common problem confronting them. The ancient trees have adapted perfectly to harsh conditions over countless millennia. They have learned to shed their leaves during droughts to in order preserve their moisture.
They have taproots reaching far down to hidden water, and a thick bark that protects what scientists call ‘the perfect tree’ from bush wildfires. Why then are they dying when their trunks store moisture they give willingly to thirsty travelers? In African tradition, this mother tree gave birth to all living creatures.
Why Then Are The Ancient Baobabs Dying Now?
Scientists are inclined to suspect climate change because timelines align. This may be the greatest global warming irony of all. Africa has produced hardly any greenhouse gases compared to other continents. Yet, the continent is being greatly affected.
Are these ‘trees of life’ dying in silent protest? Does anybody in the East or West care for values other than their own?
The world will be poorer for the loss of Africa’s baobabs, although it may not know it now. These trees are huge. A giant tree near Glencoe in South Africa’s Limpopo Province was considered the largest living individual. It had a maximum circumference of 154 feet, and a trunk diameter of 52 feet. It has split apart. Some say it is dying too.
Preview Image: Baobab Tree Towers Over Mature Elephant in Tanzania