17 years of Bao fruit counts behind us

Golf ball, tennis ball or rugby ball size, we count them all

For seventeen years in a row now, we set off to our research area in the Limpopo River valley to count baobab fruit. These are from forty permanent trees in different locations that we started to monitor since April 2005.

Bao Tree waiting to be counted and standing for conservation
Bao Tree waiting to be counted and standing for conservation

The method entails circling each tree and counting the Small – golf ball sized plus, Medium – tennis ball sized plus and Large – rugby ball sized plus, fruits of each of these forty trees. We also count the wind fallen fruit and discharged fruit eaten by baboons.

“The annual fruit counts give an indication of the ebb and flow of fruit production over the years so that we can link this to environmental factors such as rainfall patterns and temperature.  We can also track the fruit production of individual trees to see how they vary from year to year themselves, and from other trees,” explains Dr Sarah Venter.

These 40 trees are in different land use types such as villages, fields and range lands.   Valuable data that feeds into other important studies on baobab genetics, pollination, health and even global warming is gathered this way to understand and protect the earth’s Baobabs and its surrounding habitats.

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