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Tree: Baobab (Adansonia digitata)

Find, identify and discuss the plants of all the SANParks

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reinette
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Unread postby reinette » Sat Oct 13, 2007 8:20 pm

Taken at 13:15, 20 September 2007
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reinette
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Unread postby reinette » Sat Oct 13, 2007 9:44 pm

Some pictures of the great baobab on the Lebombo trail. This tree is in the Mozambican side of the park.

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The 'hollow' inside:
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Just look at the texture of the bark:
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Re: Baobab Hill Photo's

Unread postby JenB » Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:23 am

This is a very old pic, before the era of digital cameras.
It still resembles one of my favorite Kruger moments. :)

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Kruger - How far north to find Baobabs?

Unread postby edie88 » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:49 pm

Hello Forumites,

I would like to visit the central/northern part of the Park.
How far north do i have to drive to find Baobabs?

Thanks for your help
Edie from France

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Unread postby wildflowergirl » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:59 pm

Hi Eddie. Welcome to the forums and welcome to our beautiful country!! The southernmost boabab is just below satara, and from there on north you'll find them pretty much everywhere.
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Re: Kruger - How far north to find Baobabs?

Unread postby Imberbe » Tue Jan 24, 2012 10:06 pm

But to view them at their most spectacular the Northern area around Pafuri is tops!
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Re: Kruger - How far north to find Baobabs?

Unread postby hfglen » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:32 pm

If you plan your trip so that you enter or leave the Park through Pafuri, you can take a small detour to Sagole Spa, and see their Big Tree, which is the largest baobab I know -- a massive 47 metres around the base. Yes, it does cover the equivalent of half a rugby field.

Baobabs come into leaf and flower in November; flowering continues into December. (If that works for you, then you may wish to stay at Shimuwini and take a night drive to / past their big 'un. Baobabs flower mainly at night, and the white flowers against the black sky are spectacular.
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KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread postby Chacma » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:15 pm

On my recent trip I saw several stately old Baobabs, but no young saplings.
I put this down to the elephant explosion and the destruction this is wreaking on the natural environment, after all we have all seen what damage an elephant can do to the trunk of a mature baobab, what chance does a sapling stand?

I did find a handful of youngish trees on top of a spiny ridge near Pafuri picnic spot.
They were obviously in a spot which elephants couldn't access.

I am used to seeing huge numbers of baobab saplings in the bush of Northern Australia, so the total absence of baobab saplings in KNP (except in camps) is quite disturbing to me.

Is the magnificent baobab headed for extinction in the wild?

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Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread postby Grantmissy » Thu Nov 08, 2012 7:28 am

Chacma I do hope that the magnificent Baobab is not heading for extinction in Kruger. Perhaps someone who has scientific knowledge of these trees could provide us with some information regarding their status in Kruger?
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Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread postby Ifubesi » Thu Nov 08, 2012 8:36 am

Very valid and interesting question Chacma.
I have done a lot of reading on African ecology and here is a summary of what I found with regards to baobabs:
It turns out that the question you are asking ("why do we never see any young baobabs?") is not only applicable to Kruger, but it is a question often asked in all game reserves around Africa with baobab populations.
Firstly, it seems that you can't judge a baobab's age according to its trunk diameter.
If it had a good start to life, it will have a larger trunk diameter when older, than other baobabs that may be older but had a harsh time growing up.
Therefore its difficult to determine the age structure of a local population of baobabs by looking at trunk diameter alone.
Secondly, all an organism has to do to keep a healthy population, is to balance number of births with number of deaths.
If you assess the fact that baobabs have very long life spans (over a thousand years), the logical implications are that it doesn't need to have a lot of offspring that become adults, in order to maintain its population number constant.
Recruitment of young plants are probably isolated events when the climate etc. are ideal.
Those circumstances may perhaps only occur once every few decades.
Baobabs work on a different timescale than us humans :D .
It must be said however, that the high elephant populations can have a detrimental effect on a species such as this due to the relatively low number of sexually productive individuals present in the ecosystem.
Then again, African savannas work on such large timescales that its difficult to judge what is "natural" and what is not...
Hopefully this clears up a few of your questions.
Perhaps some botanists or scientists can also comment?
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Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread postby Penny » Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:29 am

At one stage some years ago iron railings were being put around baobabs that were being threatened.
Could this not be relooked at and a programme instituted to protect them from elephant.
As unsightly as these railings might be they would be a necessary evil if the tree were to be saved from destruction.
Some of these baobabs are actually grouped together on top of koppies - maybe an electric fence with a solar panel would deter elephants from gaining access to them.

There is no question in my mind that the trees that were fairly prolific north of the Letaba river, baobabs and others are definitely dwindling.
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Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread postby Chacma » Thu Nov 08, 2012 4:25 pm

Thank you all for your interest in this subject.
Interestingly, Grantmissy, we have had no contributions from KNP official sources or biologists, which could mean they either don't know or don't care.
I have the feeling that the Forum is better patronized by animal lovers than tree lovers!
Oh where is Piet van Wyk, who wrote my bible on the trees of the KNP?

I don't agree with you Ifubesi in your assertion that you only need one birth for every one death to sustain the population of a species.
It is a sound principle of survival of the fittest that you need many births for only the fittest to survive to go on to be a strong mature specimen.
I have also read the article
http://safari-ecology.blogspot.com.au/2 ... aobab.html
from which you quoted this incorrect assertion.
We should be seeing many baobab saplings growing around the vicinity of their parent plants where the soil and climatic conditions are most suitable, only to be thinned out over the years by animals, drought and other natural disasters.
But we don't.
And yet we know that the baobab seed germinates quite easily.
I am flying up to northern Australia next week and will post a photo of a typical baobab surrounded by its offspring.

Penny, much as I like your idea of protecting these trees, I very much doubt that this is in line with the current ideological stance of KNP officials, who are blowing up waterholes in the belief that these places, no matter how long they have been established, are causing an unnatural imbalance.
Some years back we noticed some trees (not baobabs) alongside the Timbavati road had been protected from damage by animals by packing sharp rocks, with their points sticking upwards, all around their bases. They must have been rare enough to need protection.
This was a far less visually intrusive method of protection than railings.

I would like to issue a challenge to members of the forum to post a photo of a baobab sapling from the KNP. Here's to hoping we will get a flood of responses!

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Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread postby Imberbe » Thu Nov 08, 2012 8:48 pm

Kruger does have a botanist on its staff. The person who heads up the Skukuza nursery is a fully qualified botanist.

I have seen a program in which it is stated that it is probably due to changed climatic circumstances which does not favour Boababs, which is causing the lack of small trees. If so, it is nature busy working.
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Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread postby Chacma » Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:20 pm

Or is it humans busy working, Imberbe? i.e. climate change?

It is indeed shocking to find that no research botanist is working in the Park.
The nursery person may be a botanist, but would probably only be doing horticultural work, not any form of survey or research on the plants growing wild.

This reinforces my suspicion that the KNP's vegetation has been given a back seat at the expense of the animals.
Is this because tourists are more interested in seeing animals than vegetation?
The vegetation is just that pesky stuff that blocks our view of the animals!

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Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread postby kallis1786 » Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:33 am

Some very interesting reading. Although I do not know much about Trees but I will agree that Baobabs have a huge lifespan and therefore I don't think it is a huge concern just yet and Nature normally does have a way


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