Elephants know a good thing when they see it
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CTA. 2000. Elephants know a good thing when they see it . Spore 90. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/46997
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore90.pdf
The Marula tree (Schlerocarya birrea) is known in southern Africa as the elephant tree. When the olive green fruits start to ripen in February, elephants are lured from far away. They start to overeat themselves, drink a lot of water, run around to...
The Marula tree (Schlerocarya birrea) is known in southern Africa as the elephant tree. When the olive green fruits start to ripen in February, elephants are lured from far away. They start to overeat themselves, drink a lot of water, run around to mix up their stomach contents, which then ferment and the animals get happily drunk. Over the millennia, the idea has caught on with humans, who enjoy the fresh fruit, and also make a popular liqueur. There are obviously many more uses, and the Natural Resources Management Project (NRMP) in Botswana has identified a wider commercial interest for Marula derived products, including puree, nuts, oil, jams and charcoal brickettes. Several large firms, primarily in South Africa, are selling Marula products and regularly cannot keep up with demand. Widespead marketing has made the Marula a name that is known far and wide, and research into its domestication going on in several continents. During the 1990s, the plant was domesticated in Australia and in Israel for commercial plantations in the Negev desert, and in late 2000, North American traders were trying to place orders for seedlings from Zimbabwe, over the Internet. The natural range of the species extends as far north as Kenya where the Nairobi-based agroforestry centre ICRAF has conducted nutritional analysis of local fruits and seeds (nuts). They are four times richer in vitamin C than oranges, and ICRAF claims that the Kenyan marula is superior to those marketed in southern Africa. With such potential, maybe it is time to reach an understanding with the elephants?