Seeds of Change
The Ficus tree is a ubiquitous part of the landscape in Northern Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools national park. These trees offer elephants in particular, a seasonal meal of fruit and foliage that form an important part of their diet.
In return, the elephant droppings spread the seed of the trees and offer a nutrient rich starting point from which these seeds can germinate.
In 1959 the immense Kariba Dam was completed with the outgoing flow rate of the mighty Zambezi River hamstrung and controlled ever since. For the Mana Pools system, this has meant regular flooding that used to be a part of the ecological landscape, no longer occurs.
Depending on with whom you speak, this change in the natural order of things has had a series of significant effects.
One of these has been the die off of the magnificent trees, particularly the Apple Ring Acacias and sprawling Ficus that are a key feature of the landscape.
Reduced ground water, decreased nutrient spills and the now ever present threat of termites that no longer have flooding to contend with, are all contributing factors to the demise of these trees.
As someone who has been so captivated by the magical scenes of Beast and Botany engaged in a centuries long ritual of feeder and seeder, it remains to be seen what the future holds for this most special of places.
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