At the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers, adjacent to Mapungubwe National Park in South Africa, the Tuli Block in south-east Botswana is a collection of private game reserves which have worked together to conserve the epic bushveld of this semi-arid region. Baobab trees are some of the biggest on the continent, and perhaps more than any other part of Southern Africa, this region oozes history and adventure; ancient rock art adorns the sandstone cliffs, and Southern Africa’s oldest formal civilization was started here in around 1000 AD. Today, locals and their cattle still live alongside Africa’s big wildlife, as they’ve done for centuries; large elephant herds, lion, rhino, giraffe and numerous antelope species move freely across the Great Mapungunwe Transrontier Conservation Area, which includes Tuli Block, and the adjacent South African and Zimbabwean land. I’ll be exploring this area with guides from EcoTraining, a leading wildlife conservation academy, which has a training camp in the area.
We were dwarfed by a baobab tree in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve of south-eastern Botswana. I stretched out my arms against the trunk, then walked slowly around it and measured the circumference, which came to about 20 metres.
“This one is just a baby,” my guide and instructor Okwa Sarefo laughed. Age and size, it turns out, is decidely relative in the African bush.
“It’s probably only 1 000 years old,” Okwa explained.
Hold on, I thought, only 1 000 years old?
“Baobab trees are the oldest living things in Africa” Okwa told us. “Some really big specimens with circumferences of 40 metres could be over 4 000 years old."
That means the biggest baobabs were already the size of this baobab tree a thousand years before the birth of Christ!
Okwa is based at Read more »