Zimbabwe: Mystery disease kills baobab trees (Trust)

| July 11, 2016

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A mysterious disease is affecting baobab trees in Zimbabwe—and those who depend on them.

The disease, which might be a fungus, turns the trees black and causes them to lose their branches and die. It has affected trees in parts of Chimanimani, Chipinge, Buhera, and Mutare districts.

It appears to primarily attack damaged trees whose bark has been removed, but it is also spreading to healthy trees. Experts say the extended drought may be stressing the trees, reducing their ability to withstand the fungus or to recover from bark harvesting. Environmentalists fear the unknown disease may wipe out the entire baobab population.

Many families depend on the giant tree for food, cooking the leaves as a vegetable or eating the fruits. The bark fibre is also used to weave mats.

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Photo credit: TRF/Andrew Mambondiyani