For six months I lived and worked in Madagascar, on its wild western coast, and every day I encountered some of the most spectacular trees in the world. There are 8 species of baobab and 6 of them are found only in Madagascar. For most of my stay it was the dry season in the arid west which meant the baobabs stood out tall and stark in the brown landscape, their branches like bare roots spreading out in the sun.
Admittedly, my heart lies in the oceans, but the baobabs of Madagascar definitely got to me and on my return home I decided to write about them for Geographical magazine.
Here’s an excerpt:
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince considered baobabs to be vigorous weeds. He was so fearful of their rampant growth that every morning he meticulously cleared all of the baobab seedlings away so they wouldn’t smother his tiny planet. Sadly, Madagascar’s baobabs aren’t so resilient.Botanist Daniel Metcalfe recently conducted a study of the baobabs in Kirindy, a forestry reserve in western Madagascar a few hours drive north of Morondava. He found plenty of fony baobabs, but regeneration was taking place only at a very low level. He believes that human disturbance in the forest, such as logging, may be promoting the shrubby undergrowth, which quickly fills in the bright forest gaps needed for baobab germination
You can read the whole Geographical article online here.