Madascar’s Stunning Baobab Trees

In filming “Hotspots“, DSF and our film’s host, Dr. Russell A. Mittermeier, President of Conservation International, explored several key sites within Madascar, 400 kilometers off the East coast of Africa, exploring critical issues and Endangered species.

Included was the Giant Madagascar Baobab tree (Adansonia grandidieri), or Grandidier’s baobab. These visually arresting trees used to dominate the landscapes of the country, but, sadly, now exist in just five locations. Providing a vital resource to both humans and wildlife on the island, the Baobabs have stout, bottle-shaped trunks capable of storing substantial amounts of water. In fact the trunks — which swell up during the rainy season — can hold as much as 120,000 litres (32,000 gallons) of water.

Hotspots DVDOf the eight species left on the planet, seven survive on the island of Madagascar: nearly the only region left on Earth where these magnificent trees exist. Natives call the trees “mothers of the forest,” due to their oil-bearing seeds, edible fruits, water-bearing capacity, and bark that can be fashioned into rope.

Antananarivo is the capital of Madagascar, a nation of 17.3 million people that is emblematic of all the 35 biological hotspots on the planet, where some 300 million people live within 10 kilometers of the protected areas found there. Many of those people are poor, and poverty alleviation is critical if conservation initiatives are to succeed. They are also the same pool of local knowledge and human resources from which park and eco-tourist guides, and the next generations of ecologists, will likely be recruited.

For more information:

> Conservation International, Madascar

> Fanamby: Maintaining Protected Areas