Malagasy girl walks among the Baobab trees.

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Actually, the landscape you see here is almost entirely man-made. Why do Baobab trees grow like that? Well, they used to be surrounded by brush and other trees. They would rise above and invest all their leaves in the very top; while sucking up as much water as possible to compete with their neighbours.

When modern man first came there, and especially since the arrival of Omani and European explorers, the other trees have been cut down for wood. However, baobab wood is essentially useless; it doesn’t even burn well. The effort involve in chopping down a tree so thick wasn’t worthwhile; so, while their lack of use is what saved them, the way the trees are now is pretty inefficient and would not evolve ‘again’ were the landscape to be like the one this photograph was taken in.

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