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The African Baobabs, A Vital Part of the The African Landscape, Are Now Dying

The baobab tree is a repository of enigma, and it is strikingly huge, superficially not complex, but in its identity it is very intricate. It has always been a spectacular sight to the African landscape, with its impressive height and width that has inspired foltales and even photography. They are beautiful.

But this striking feature of our landscape is facing imminent demise. Some of the old baobab trees have already met their unfortunate fate. Being a tree that survives for thousands of years, (can live for more than 2500 years) the death they are undergoing calls for serious questions to be asked and for answers to be proferred.

According to a research published in Nature Plants, nine of the 13 oldest baobabs in Africa, and six of the continent’s largest specimens, are in the process of dying or have died over the last decade.

A baobab tree reputed to be 6,000 years old is seen at Sunland Nurseries near Modjadjiskloof, Limpopo, South Africa. (EPA-EFE/Jonathan Brady) (Quartz Africa)

The researchers expressed great concerning, writing that the finding “is an event of an unprecedented magnitude.” They said, ““These deaths were not caused by an epidemic and there has also been a rapid increase in the apparently natural deaths of many other mature baobabs.”

The rapid deterioration can be attributed to the vagaries brought by the adverse effects of climate change that may be at play,which affects Southern Africa the most. “We suspect that the demise of monumental baobabs may be associated at least in part with significant modifications of climate conditions that affect southern Africa in particular,” they wrote. “However, further research is necessary to support or refute this supposition.”

Baobabs are a vital part of our landscape. Their demise is something that could bring a lot of strain to the climate balance that exists already (which is now under threat at an unprecedented rate). Baobabs, with the history of their environment richly encoded in their wood, provide a valuable climate record, and can be used to test future climate models, co-author Stephan Woodborne says.

Pic: DW

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