The latest in a series of translocations for the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP) fell out of the usual pattern of herbivore movements. Although one of the Kruger National Park's Game Capturetrucks was used, for once it did not have a hot-blooded cargo. Instead, its load bed was occupied by a massive baobab tree one of two making a move from Letaba Main Camp to the Giriyondo Border Post.
According to Mooiplaas section ranger Johann Oelofse, "The motivation for the translocation of the trees was twofold. With no large trees presently on site at the Giriyondo Border Post, these two baobabs will immediately provide structure to the garden at the post. Both baobabs also posed a threat to infrastructure in Letaba and would eventually have had to be destroyed – and act that is almost sacrilege. You simply do not destroy something so majestic when there is a chance of saving it."
The trees were moved with the help of Sasol Nitro Phalaborwa and JP Crane Hire, also from Phalaborwa. "One of the baobabs, probably about 30 years old, has a trunk diameter of around 1,5 metres and weighs in at around seven-and-a-half tons. The other younger tree weighs in at around 3 tons and has a trunk diameter of 60cm. Both trees are well over 10 metres tall, which posed tremendous challenges for us."
The trees were dug up in Letaba and propped up against any available solid object prior to being lifted out of the ground with a FAUN 140 tonne crane. They travelled the 45km to the border post where they were replanted in holes 2.5m wide by 2.5m deep. The holes had to be blasted out of solid rock by the Sasol Nitro team, along with some drainage channels. The trees have been secured with four long poles.
The baobabs are expected to be the focal point of the garden on the South African side of the Giriyondo border post, which will consist of plants and trees indigenous to the region. If the animals moved into the Mozambican side of the GLTP are expected to help encourage other animals to make the move naturally, one wonders when other baobab trees will be following in these two pioneer's footsteps.