Interesting self protection facts about the Soetdoring tree.
This tree has spend just the right amount of resources in developing its thorns so that it is just long enough to protect its leaves. The thorns are white to advertise to possible would be leaf eaters no not try their luck. It is also spaced in such a way that only small delicate mouths and tongues like those of duiker and giraffe can get access to it.
The leaves can have a very high content of tanine, which is why its bark is used for processing leather. It will happen that an animal will be eating the leaves one moment and then all of a sudden the tanine levels will rise so high that the animal will move off to the next tree.
The name soetdoring comes from where if the tree got damaged it will release this sweet smelling glue to protect and heal the damaged area.
What is the common name of this tree please? I don't have my tree books at hand right now ;o) Would it be the Sweet Thorn?
According to my info, some trees are believed to 'communicate' with others of the same species close by - so that the tanin levels not only increase in the tree which is being browsed, but also in it's neighbours.
As Freda said, there has been a case where a whole herd of Kudu died from tanin poisoning, due to the fact that they were introduced to a small area, with limited tree species, and where the trees had all increased their tanin levels due to over-browsing by the animals.
When they performed autopsies to try to discover why the animals had all suddenly and inexplicably died, they found that, although the animals had eaten very well and had full stomachs, they had excessive amounts of tanin in their blood which resulted in organ failure.