Region: Mana Pools National Park
Mana Pools National Park, on the banks of the Zambezi River, has one of the best examples of alluvial terracing and floodplain vegetation in southern Africa. Its views are striking and evocative: tall albida trees (Faidherbia albida, known also as the Ana tree), open floodplains and the mountains of the Rift Valley behind. Recently, the magnificent albidas have been declining in numbers and it was speculated that this was the result of the elephant population feeding heavily on these trees, and high numbers of large mammals destroying the young specimens as well. It may be part of a natural cycle, but there is concern that this is either caused or exacerbated by the fact that the Zambezi River no longer floods the way it used to – either because of the presence of Lake Kariba’s dam wall, or due to the unusually high density of certain large mammals, such as elephant and impala.
This experimental project attempted to “protect” the trees from further damage by wrapping wire mesh around their trunks. Hard-hit trees were identified and wrapped with wire in the hope of prolonging their lives; the project was also aimed at researching the long-term effects of such an action.