Monday, October 29, 2012


The mighty baobabs, my favourite trees, are some of the oldest and largest trees in the world! If you have not yet had a chance to see these beauties up close you may remember them as the “Tree of Life” in Disney’s Lion King or as a centerpiece at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

During the wet season the Baobabs are a luscious green with thick leafy canopies. The stout trunk is fibrous and spongy and stores huge amounts of water. This is one of the reasons the elephants love to snack on the trees. You will often notice that the bottom sections of Baobabs are rubbed off or hollowed out as elephants regularly eat their bark and gouge holes in the trees during droughts. They cause a considerable amount of damage, but this is nature and the circle of life! The locals use the fibres to make string, cloth and baskets while the leaves are used for medicines and condiments.    

In the dry season the Baobabs are completely bare and look very much like it has its roots sticking up in the air.  Legends say that the Baobab tree came to be stuffed in the ground upside down, so it could no longer complain.
 The Baobabs are currently in bloom with white flowers which are pollinated by fruit bats - these large white flowers last only for one single day. 
The grayish green, furry coated fruits are starting to grow, their oblong woody fruits will grow up to 30cm in length.  A tasty juice can be prepared from the fruits of the baobab; you may also snack on the bitter fruit which is known as “monkey bread” – this is a great source of vitamin C. I enjoy the Baobab fruits as a morning treat. Judy cracked open a dried fruit for us this morning, yummy! 


It is hard to tell the age of a Baobab because they do not lay down wood with annual rings.  Scientists have measured changes in their size and have calculated that they increase 2.7 meters (9 feet) in circumference every 100 years.  Thus, a tree 18 feet in girth is around 200 years old.  Many Baobabs are hollow, and provide homes for bees, owls, and bats – even people.  I had the opportunity to stand inside the monster sized tree, with the bats, bees and moths - and a few other creatures I’m sure! I love the energy of these magnificent trees.  You will notice sticks on the inside of this Baobab, they are used to climb to the bee hives. 

This young Baobab is just 17 years old. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

After the hunt

Today we flew over a pride of nine lions; they had conquered two smaller buffalos early in the morning. They have been hanging around the river as this is the easiest place for them to find food.  Once we had landed we made our way to watch them from the ground.  The jackals were pointing us to the direction of the lions, as scavengers they circle around the area waiting for the perfect time to move in to join in on the feast.  The vultures also circle above and sit nearby, watching for their turn.

By the time we had arrived the lions had moved their catch to a covered area. We first discovered the male, lying under the tree; he was fighting to stay awake to protect his catch of the day.  As one has nothing but time while on safari, we sat and watched the jackals move in on the king of the jungle, wondering what was going to take place.  The jackals remind me of a character from a childhood show, the "Littlest Hobo".  Every time I see these clever little guys I can't help but sing... "Maybe tomorrow I'll want to settle down, until tomorrow I'll just keep moving on"!

The lion eventually fell asleep, the jackals slowly inched his way closer, in such an inconspicuous way!  One of the brave jackals continued closer yet, watching closely the lion’s laborious breathing. He managed to get very close before the lion lifted his head, a warning that now is not the time for such a disturbance!

A few yards away the females were also lazing about.  One of the elders was guarding their second buffalo and the rest were lying nearby under a tree.

I have watched this pride of lions on many occasions; it is quite amazing to watch the cubs as they grow over the months.  One of the females in this particular pride wears a GPS collar, which has been managed by a team of Lion Researchers working in Tarangire National Park.  In past discussions with the researchers - as a concerned animal lover, I have learned that the lions are not bothered by the collars nor does it affect their normal routine for survival.  

The lions in Tarangire have plenty of food as the park is full of their favourite hoofed wildlife. The large cats will follow the animals as they migrate the African land.  It is currently one of the best times to visit Tarangire National Park, due to the large number of herds, prides and packs that roam the wooded forest.
Earlier this week I met a wonderful artist by the name of Judy Nicholson, she was visiting Tarangire on her safari and had flown in the balloon for an unforgettable experience.  I enjoy her work, especially the animal pieces. I look forward to seeing more creations, inspired from her visit to Tarangire! With joy I share Trudy’s Artwork!