The project ‘Trees of life’
The millennial baobabs, oldest trees in the world, are disappearing.
‘Trees of life’ is a personal photographic project on the large African trees disappearance due to climate change: the vast majority of the oldest baobabs in Africa are dying.
The situation of these ancient trees has worsened over the last fifteen years. A disappearance that is qualified as having an unprecedented magnitude. These trees are symbolic in Africa where they are the link between the land and the people. Then, how to represent them with dignity and give them again the place that anthropocentrism had taken away from them?
The series ‘Tree of life’ presents the first images of a personal artistic documentation made with the photographic chamber along a journey of more than eight thousand kilometers in southern Africa.
The millennial baobabs, the oldest trees in the world, are disappearing.
Source Les Echos – Published 16/06/18
« About 432 years BC. J-C, at the time of Socrates and Pericles, ‘Panke’ was born in what is today called Zimbabwe. As its slow growth in this arid region, the Roman Empire expanded and collapsed, the Middle Ages gave birth to Charlemagne and Joan of Arc, the man invented the printing, the light bulb, then the cars … Finally, in 2011, Panke collapsed.»
The oldest baobab in Africa, 2,450 years old, is not the only one of its kind to have died out suddenly. A study in Nature Plants reports that 9 of the 13 oldest and 5 of the 6 largest baobabs have died in the past 12 years. A situation of “unprecedented scale”
The researchers discovered this “unprecedented scale” situation almost by chance: they studied the structure of these trees to unlock the secret of their incredible measurements and record longevity.
Among the victims, three symbolic monsters: Panke, therefore, native of Zimbabwe (2450 years), the tree of Platland, which sheltered his mythical bar (1100 years) and the famous “Chapman” of Botswana, on which Livingstone engraved his initials , classified national monument (1400 years).
Main data, radiocarbon and calibrated ages of the oldest and largest African baobabs
Tree (location) Calculated age of tree/stem (cal yr) Status
- Panke (Mbuma, Zimbabwe) + 2,500 All stems toppled and died in 2010–2011
- Dorslandboom (Khaudum Park, Namibia) + 2,100 The oldest two stems toppled and died in 2006
- Glencoe tree (Hoedspruit, South Africa) + 2,000 The main old part split and died in 2009
- Holboom (Nyae Nyae Conservancy, Namibia) + 1,800 Several stems and cavity walls broke off since 2012
- Humani Bedford Old baobab (Savé Valley, Zimbabwe) + 1,800 Alive
- Makuri Leboom (Nyae Nyae Conservancy, Namibia) + 1,600 Several old stems toppled and/or broke off
- Grootboom (Nyae Nyae Conservancy, Namibia) + 1,500 All stems toppled and died in 2004–2005
- Matendere Big baobab (Savé Valley, Zimbabwe) + 1,500 Alive
- Luna tree (Venetia Limpopo NR, South Africa) + 1,500 Alive
- Lebombo Eco trail baobab (Limpopo NP, Mozambique) + 1,400 Alive
- Chapman baobab (Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana) + 1,400 All stems toppled and died in 2016
- Makulu Makete Big baobab (Makulu Makete Reserve, South Africa) + 1,250 All stems toppled and died in 2008
- Lundu baobab (South Luangwa NP, Zambia) + 1,250 Several stems and cavity walls broke off since 2014
- Platland tree/Sunland baobab (Modjadjiskloof, South Africa) + 1,100 The largest unit toppled and died in 2016–2017
- Sagole Big tree (Zwigodini/ Mutale, South Africa) + 850 Alive