Africa’s ancient trees of life are being killed by climate change – according to a recent scientific study.
Published in the journal Nature Plants last month, the report claims scores of the ancient baoab trees, some of which are up to 3,000 years old, are now dying because of rising global temperatures.
Researches found that nine of the oldest 13 baobab trees and five of the six biggest ones have partially or completely died in the past 12 years.
‘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,’ the authors of the 2018 report wrote.
‘However, further research is necessary to support or refute this supposition.’
While Stephan Woodborne, a senior scientist at iThemba labs in Johannesburg, South Africa, said: ‘Of the oldest trees that we’ve looked at in Southern Africa, the three trees that are older than 2,000 years, in the last 10 years, they’ve all died.
‘Of the 11 trees that are in that age 1,000 to 2,000 years, six of them have died.’
The remarkable trees, which can grow as wide as the length of a bus, have hollow trunks and have been used in the past as storage houses, prisons, and even pubs.
In Limpopo, the Glencoe baobab, was thought to be the largest living baobab. Its gargantuan trunk measured more than 154 feet until it split in 2009.
It’s still uncertain what is driving the baobab deaths. But Woodborne believes that climate change is the major culprit.
The baobab tree is revered in Africa, having sustained locals for centuries, so its survival is important to people who live there.
Medicinal compounds are extracted from its leaves, while the fruit -rich in vitamin C — is used for nourishment and the seeds yield oil.