Baobab Elephant Project

Protection of adult baobabs

Elephants strip and eat baobab bark and often gouge into the wood to get to the juicy pulp. Baobabs can withstand extensive damage as they have a unique ability to completely heal wounds within a few years. However, where elephant numbers are very high, excessive debarking leads to dehydration of the tree and eventual death. This problem needs urgent attention as the loss of baobab trees has a knock-on effect on many other animals that live in and around the trees. Baobabs are a keystone species that provide habitat for dozens of bird, mammal and reptile species. The Baobab Foundation is involved in researching and finding solutions to mitigate this problem.

Elephant numbers in many of the national parks around southern Africa are too high and as a result debarking and wood gouging has lead to these parks loosing hundreds of baobab trees. In South Africa elephant numbers in Mapungubwe National Park have increased dramatically over the last decade as a result of the security fence between Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa being removed. In other national parks, such as Gonarezhou National Park and Mana Pools National Parks in Zimbabwe high numbers of baobab trees as well as riverine habitats have also been lost to elephant damage.

Elephants of Mapungubwe National Park SA

Why did we start the Baobab Elephant Project?

In 2022 trials conducted in Mapungubwe National Park in South Africa found that wrapping baobabs in diamond mesh was a practical, low-maintenance and long-term solution to protecting baobabs from elephant damage in the park.

The baobab trees that were wrapped in diamond mesh were completely untouched by elephants compared to the trees which did not have mesh. The mesh was found to be unobtrusive, and many people only noticed the mesh when they were a few meters away from the tree.

Please go to our Baobab Resources page to view the report on the trial results and also feel free to down load our guide – “How to wrap a baobab tree in wire mesh”. 

Watch time lapse video here

Read more about our work on our News Page