Environment

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Sad, slow farewell to kenyan baobabs

Culling and exports, our (vain) battle

27-10-2022 by Freddie del Curatolo

Kenya's baobabs are inevitably destined to disappear unless the new government takes timely and necessary countermeasures to stop the trickle of felling by private individuals and companies that own the land where they have stood for centuries. A practice that is not prohibited, but simply regulated by licenses that are easy to obtain, paying for a permit as if it were just any shrub.
To this havoc that not only befalls nature, but also man because the baobab is a source of free vitamins, a powerful anti-hunger (and never more important than at this time would it be to use it, especially for children) and a very important cultural and traditional symbol, we now add exportation.
You read that right: export. In recent months an Eastern European billionaire entrepreneur in the hinterland of Kilifi has purchased 5,000 tons of baobabs, uprooted them and put them in iron cages to transport them to Georgia and plant them, he says, in a large botanical garden back home.
 Local farmers, who own the land where the baobabs, including one that is an estimated 2,500 years old, have sold their specimens for between 100,000 and 300,000 shillings (between 850 and 2,500 euros each). Ancestral plants of inestimable value, symbols of Africa and its nature that has withstood all human filth, raped and killed for two filthy bucks, without anyone lifting a finger.
The only voices being raised are those of environmentalists, such as Gus Le Breton of Baobab Alliance, who has called for specific laws to be passed to protect the ancestral plants.
For his part, the Georgian entrepreneur told the media that he is actually preventing them from a worse end by exporting the baobabs.
"I decided to buy the baobabs after hearing that residents were cutting them down to make way for crops. They were killing them even without me because they wanted to plant corn. I see no harm in saving the tree, which cannot be used as firewood or charcoal. I don't see any tragedy. The real tragedy is killing trees for nothing."
The "nothing" the entrepreneur is talking about is the extreme hunger that people in the coastal hinterland have come to, due to drought, also caused by deforestation. If instead of spending money on exporting, transporting and attempting to replant millennial trees that weigh tons, people would help the farmers, explaining that a baobab tree in his field to grow is only adding value, the world and this part of Africa would turn differently.
Some time ago we at Malindikenya.net had prepared a campaign to save baobabs, starting with mapping the oldest and most historic ones on the coast. We were about to launch a crowdfunding effort to produce a few installments of a series on the first specimens videotaped and photographed. Then the pandemic came and everything was put on hold. Today, just two and a half years later, it all seems almost pointless. In our very small way, however, the battle continues.
This was the promo for the project, with the musical theme song written together with friend and songwriter Stefano Barotti. (IN ITALIAN)
 

 

TAGS: baobabnaturaambientebarotti

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