Skip to Content

Tree: Baobab (Adansonia digitata)

Find, identify and discuss the plants of all the SANParks
User avatar
Chacma
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:10 am
Location: Top of a fencepost

Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread post by 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!

User avatar
Imberbe
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Posts: 13543
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 12:28 am
Location: Pretoria, RSA

Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread post by 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.
Imberbe = Combretum imberbe = Leadwood = Hardekool = The spirit of the Wildernis!

Want to know more about the SANParks Honorary Rangers? Visit www.sanparksvolunteers.org


One positive deed is worth more than a thousand critical words.

User avatar
Chacma
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:10 am
Location: Top of a fencepost

Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread post by 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!

User avatar
kallis1786
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 966
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:11 pm
Location: 45 mins from Punda Maria
Contact:

Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread post by 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

User avatar
Ifubesi
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 93
Joined: Sat Sep 11, 2010 8:42 pm
Location: Body:Pretoria ; Soul:Kruger

Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread post by Ifubesi » Fri Nov 09, 2012 7:57 am

Chacma: 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.

If you read carefully I didn't say one birth for every death.
I meant one tree should become a sexually reproductive adult.
I am perfectly aware that you need many births in order for some to survive.
What I also said was that recruitment of saplings are probably isolated incidents which we may not be able to document in our insignificantly short lives.

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.

They are "blowing up" waterholes to address precisely the concern you have:
To decrease the elephant impact on trees near these waterholes.
Seems as though we are always unhappy with whatever Sanparks do or don't do.
I have the feeling that the Forum is better patronised by animal lovers than tree lovers!

I can assure you that I for one am not a patronising animal lover!
I am also deeply concerned about the obvious decrease in large trees, especially Marula, Knobthorn and Baobab.
However I trust that current policies of closing artificial waterholes and bringing down trans-boundary fences are the only viable long-term solution to the problem.
I must however also agree with you that in the short term, trees may have to be protected by measures such as the packing of sharp rocks around their bases.
I really urge someone from scientific services in Kruger to get more involved in these discussions.
These are important queries that are raised and we as concerned Sanparks patrons would be more at ease if we knew exactly if and how some of these concerns are being addressed.
13 Dec 2012 Pretoriuskop
14-15 Dec 2012 Lower Sabie
16 Dec 2012 Tamboti
17-18 Dec 2012 Satara
19-22 Dec 2012 Shingwedzi
23 Dec 2012 Punda Maria

threedogs
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
Posts: 809
Joined: Sun Apr 12, 2009 6:20 am

Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread post by threedogs » Fri Nov 09, 2012 8:00 am

Over much of sub-Saharan Africa and particularly in managed parks and reserves the issue of very low recruitment of baobabs has been the subject of quite a bit of research over the last couple of decades and possibly much earlier.
The impact of burgeoning elephant populations on recruitment is well documented and a common factor that comes up in most studies.
However all the other climatic and localised factors in each area have at times played a role in the dwindling population of baobabs including human impact, drought and flood to name a few of the issues that interact with elephant damage.
Unfortunately, some very good papers on this subject are only available to read if you are affiliated with a subscribing university or are prepared to pay for them. (one of my pet peeves)
If you do a google search on 'baobab recruitment' you will see some examples of work done and published including studies in KNP.
NO TO TRADE IN RHINO HORN!

User avatar
Elsa
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 9829
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:31 pm
Location: Ballito, KZN North Coast, South Africa

Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread post by Elsa » Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:07 am

I found This Site Has some quite interesting reading.
Where ever you go, go with all your Heart.
Kruger - 16th May - 3rd June 2016

Have you nominated someone in the Annual Forum Awards yet?

threedogs
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
Posts: 809
Joined: Sun Apr 12, 2009 6:20 am

Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread post by threedogs » Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:44 am

A literature review would take quite a while :wink:

But this paper is probably a very good overview of studies done on vegetation change and the role elephants play: http://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/co ... tation.pdf

It is a lengthy read and being a scientific paper it takes a bit of wading through but persistence in reading it will be rewarded :thumbs_up:
NO TO TRADE IN RHINO HORN!

User avatar
bert
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Posts: 14290
Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2005 9:02 pm
Location: mind in SA, body in The Netherlands

Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread post by bert » Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:05 pm

little research done in Mapungubwe by University of Arkansas

Was lucky enough to have been in Tsava in 1986 and it was after a drough period
We met the staff and were told that they did open baobabs for water.
And we did see the damage done to the trees.

Baobabs and elephants in Kruger National Park: nowhere to hide
Link to Wiley online library

So searching the net has a wealth of information. Some maybe outdated but still...

johanrebel
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 418
Joined: Sun Mar 05, 2006 4:34 pm

Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread post by johanrebel » Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:30 pm

gmlsmit wrote:Kruger does have a botanist on its staff. The person who heads up the Skukuza nursery is a fully qualified botanist. Yes with the duty of running the nursery. Not doing research.
She conducted a Barleria survey in the Makuleke/Pafuri region recently. They found an impressive 18 species, I understand. Qualifies as research in my book.

Johan

johanrebel
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 418
Joined: Sun Mar 05, 2006 4:34 pm

Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread post by johanrebel » Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:36 pm

Chacma wrote:Oh where is Piet van Wyk, who wrote my bible on the trees of the KNP?
He died in 2006, I'm sorry to say.

I recommend Schmidt et al, Trees and Shrubs of Mpumalanga and the Kruger National Park. By far the most comprehensive and up to date bible out there.

Johan

User avatar
Chacma
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:10 am
Location: Top of a fencepost

Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread post by Chacma » Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:24 pm

Ifubesi you make a very good point about the reduction of pressure on vegetation resulting from destruction of the waterholes, hand in hand with removal of boundary fences. I am delighted to find that you and I are on the same page.

Thank you Elsa for your reference to the enlightening article, it gave me a huge boost to know that people like Michele Hofmeyr are doing so much research to give us all more insight into this issue.
The point about "episodic recruitment" makes me think that such an exceptional growing event has occurred recently in northern Australia, resulting in the prolific production of saplings that I have noticed.
It is comforting to know that this issue is being researched and monitored and can be acted on in KNP if things become critical in years to come.

Thanks also to Threedogs whose reference I will follow up on, and to all the other contributors.
It is great to know the level of concern out there for our ecology.
You are my soulmates.

User avatar
Roan
Posts: 160
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:22 pm
Location: Bela-Bela, Limpopo

Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread post by Roan » Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:26 pm

It is interesting to note that driving from Louis Trichardt to Tshipise and Musina there are quite a number of small baobab trees next to the road, especially in some of the cultivated fields where the farmers don`t cut them down but protect them.
Now these trees in the cultivated fields must have the ideal growing conditions as they get water regularly in summer and there are no competition from other trees or animals trying to eat them, yet they are quite small which suggests that they are still young.
I usually go to the north of Kruger and have only seen young baobab trees on the hills around Pafuri and the Nyala loop.
Mostly on inaccessible outcrops.

Taking into consideration that these trees are succulents, then drought conditions should not affect them that much.

I have personally planted some seeds collected at Tshipise and the germination % is extremely high (considering that I live in an area outside their natural distribution area and which is prone to quite cold winters).
These trees also grows very quickly under favourable conditions, even if they get hit hard by frost as happened these last two years in my area.

The fact that the animals in Kruger are still in an enclosed area (even though it is over 2 million hectares), still puts pressure on the natural resources.
As I mentioned before, these are succulents with a huge amount of moisture and a favourite source of food for elephants and other animals.

In the Chobe along the riverfront they had a similar problem where there were no saplings of any trees reaching maturity due to browsing pressure.
The moment something green emerged on the desert-like landscape under these huge trees it got eaten by impala and other browsers.
Even the big trees got killed by porcupine ring barking them to get something to eat.

Now I am not saying that the same thing is happening here, but the fact that there are hardly any saplings seen in the park and the fact that there are quite a few outside must make you think a bit.. :hmz:
2013. . . . . Okavango?

User avatar
Ifubesi
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 93
Joined: Sat Sep 11, 2010 8:42 pm
Location: Body:Pretoria ; Soul:Kruger

Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread post by Ifubesi » Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:27 am

Very valid point taken, Roan. :thumbs_up:

I think ecologists who manage national parks and game reserves are in a bit of a catch-22.
On the one hand they need to keep the plant community in a healthy state.
On the other hand, tourists who bring in the essential funds, want to see animals and lots of them.
Natural ecosystems (with large mammals as essential components) have evolved to operate over massive areas.
Ancient migration patterns were specifically adapted to the natural water distribution patterns through the different seasons.
Most areas away from perennial rivers were probably lightly utilized and for only a small portion of the year. Large herds moved through the area and only returned the next year.

Then western civilization arrived here with their fences, roads and national boundaries which totally disrupted these ancient patterns.
Now we must try and mimic the natural state of things in small fenced-in areas.
The animals are sedentary and they need water year-round in previously semi-arid areas to survive.
We can't totally remove animals from an area for a part of the year, as would have been the case in the past when animals moved around freely.
Even if we could do that, it wouldn't go down well with the tourists who bring their pounds and dollars to see the big 5...

I don't know if there is a totally waterproof solution.
However the only workable long term alternative that exist is to enlarge game reserves by bringing down the fences and linking existing reserves with each other.
The larger the area the easier it is to restore natural migratory and water distribution patterns by closing artificial water holes and opening up old grazing areas.

I have 2 big concerns however.
Firstly, can the system cope with the high elephant population that came into existence due to past unnatural water provisioning practices?
Secondly, the ever growing human population is quickly converting all remaining natural areas into "human habitats" and on a daily basis we are losing essential habitat which is needed if this solution is to work...
13 Dec 2012 Pretoriuskop
14-15 Dec 2012 Lower Sabie
16 Dec 2012 Tamboti
17-18 Dec 2012 Satara
19-22 Dec 2012 Shingwedzi
23 Dec 2012 Punda Maria

User avatar
Chacma
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:10 am
Location: Top of a fencepost

Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?

Unread post by Chacma » Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:55 pm

Here are the pictures I promised of boabs (Adansonia Gregorii) which I took yesterday in the Kimberley region of north western Australia by way of comparison. This one is a typical stand of boabs beside a dry creek bed. As you can see, the boabs co-exist in a wide range of sizes - or ages - and do not appear to suffer the periodic event syndrome of the KNP baobab
Image

This picture is of an extremely fertile boab with her offspring nested closely around her - the result of an extreme periodic event I would think. I should hasten to add that this is very far from typical!
Image

Whilst I acknowledge that you can't make direct comparisons between species which are living in different parts of the world, it is interesting to know what is happening elsewhere.


Return to “Plants”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests


Webcam Highlights

Addo
Submitted by Pjw at 16:22:41
orpen
Submitted by Spook50 at 20:20:01
satara
Submitted by Mrs. S.K.L.Gauntlett at 14:48:24
nossob
Submitted by jobi at 06:48:21