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Did you know that there are eight officially protected trees in the Selati Game Reserve according to the National Forestry Act (84 of 1998)? To be honest, if it was up to me ALL trees would be protected, but alas eight will have to do for now. This Act states that no person may cut, disturb, damage or destroy any protected tree…we will need to chat to our elephant’s about that!
You are also not allowed to possess, collect, remove, transport, export, purchase, sell, donate or in any other manner acquire or dispose of any protected tree or any forest produced from a protected tree, except under a licence or exemption granted by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Let’s have a look at each of the eight trees individually and how they have helped human beings in the past.
- The Baobab tree, also known as the Cream of Tartar tree
This tree needs no introduction. The Baobab tree is one of the most iconic trees in Africa. Unfortunately, Selati only has one really big tree positioned in the northern part of the Selati reserve. This is because elephants eat these trees like dessert.
- The Torchwood tree
Its name speaks for itself. The fruits produced by this tree contains a flammable oil that has been used in the past to light up the darkest of nights by the original African inhabitants, the Bushman.
- The Shepherds tree
This is a true gift from nature! It used to provide herders of the past with much-welcomed shade and valuable food for their animals While the herder’s where watching their goats feed they would gather some roots (sustainably of course), to make a pot of coffee.
- The Matumi tree
This beautiful sentimental tree loves having its roots wet and is only found in the river and drainage lines of Selati reserve. The origin of its name is a mystery, but it sounds like a child’s name and also ‘wet behind the ears’ as the saying goes, reminds me of its uses in the past as a tonic for children.
- The Leadwood tree
The ancestral tree that lives for hundreds if not thousands of years. It is said that African ancestral spirits reside in its ancient branches. The next time you walk past a Leadwood tree, remember, your great (great) Granny might be looking at you. Be sure to greet her with the respectful word ‘MAKHOS’.
- The Bushveld Saffron tree
This is a unique medicinal tree. The leaves of this tree are used to make tea and would have the slightest note of Saffron in the background. This tea is used to soothe sore throats.
- The Apple-leaf tree
No, this tree does not produce apples but if you camp under this tree it might warn you of approaching danger. The leaves on this tree if walked on by predators makes a crushing sound similar to that of biting into an apple.
- The Marula tree
Oh boy! So many stories reside in the depths of this trees’ anatomy but my favourite revolves around the idea that this tree could be used for determining the sex of your next baby according to which tree gender you find first. Yup, you either find a male tree or a female tree so you have a 50/50 % chance either way.
So good people of this earth, remember that we stand on the shoulders of giants and many people across history have tried and tested the above uses of these trees. If I could leave you with one message in honour of Arbor week this month,
“live life sustainably and don’t destroy our trees”