Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Anecdote for the Day

The Ténéré Tree (above) was a solitary acacia tree that was once considered the most isolated tree on Earth. It was a landmark on caravan routes through the Ténéré region of the Sahara Desert in northeast Niger, so well known that it and the Arbre Perdu or 'Lost Tree' to the north are the only trees to be shown on a map at a scale of 1:4,000,000. 

Commander of the Allied Military Mission, Michel Lesourd, of the Central Service of Saharan Affairs, saw the tree on May 21, 1939 and wrote: 
“One must see the Tree to believe its existence. What is its secret? How can it still be living in spite of the multitudes of camels which trample at its sides. How at each azalai does not a lost camel eat its leaves and thorns? Why don't the numerous Touareg leading the salt caravans cut its branches to make fires to brew their tea? The only answer is that the tree is taboo and considered as such by the caravaniers.  
There is a kind of superstition, a tribal order which is always respected. Each year the azalai gather round the Tree before facing the crossing of the Ténéré. The Acacia has become a living lighthouse; it is the first or the last landmark for the azalai leaving Agadez for Bilma, or returning. 
Despite being the only tree for over 400 kilometres (250 mi) in a totally flat, otherwise barren landscape, it was knocked down in 1973 by a drunk truck driver.

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