LIFE... THROUGH THE EYES OF A TREE
Mist steadily drifts through the lush, green, tropical forest surrounding South Africa’s Soutpansberg
Mountains. Ferns and fungi grow untamed between the foliage in this forest, with the smell of wet moss and decaying leaves rank in the air. It’s in this environment that we meet one of the world’s most awe-inspiring giants, a 600-year-old Outeniqua Yellowwood. At 35 meters, she is Queen of this forest. She towers above the forest canopy, her branches bearing, long, thin, dark green leathery leaves, high above the ground, throughout the year.
This Giant belongs to an ancient family of trees that does not produce flowers, but instead reproduces by means of cones found on male and female trees. It is summer, and the Queen’s cones are round, yellow, fleshy berries, each containing a single seed. These resinous cones attract a troop of Samango Monkeys to the Queen’s branches. The tribe consists of a dominant male, his harem of females and their offspring They shove the yellow fruit into their cheek pouches so that they can enjoy it at a later stage.
At the base of the yellowwood, a flock of Crested Guineafowl pecks at the monkeys’ leftovers. The monkeys and the guineafowl often forage together… more eyes to look out for predators… Predators like the pair of crowned eagles that has just moved into the neighborhood. The couple’s nest is a massive structure measuring two and a half meters across and three meters deep.
1 x 48 minutes
They don’t only hunt monkeys; they also target Rock Hyraxes, and a family of these adorable critters has taken up residence in the hollow of an old decaying tree nearby. Yellowwood cones and fruit also make up a substantial part of the tree hyraxes’ diet, and the agile creatures scale low-lying branches in order to get to the berries. At night, a woodland dormouse gathers up some of the leftover seeds, which it stores in a small hoard in a hollow of a nearby tree.
At the end of winter and the Queen produces new light green cones along with a flourish of new leaves. At this time, male yellowwoods in the area start releasing pollen from their mature catkin-like cones, which is dispersed by the wind, and pollinates the Queen’s new cones. From there the female cones will take a full year to develop into the tree’s fleshy, yellow fruit.
The Queen is one of the few remaining Outeniqua yellowwood trees. In the past these giant trees were so sought after for their timber, they almost became extinct in some areas. Disappearing along with the trees are the all the wildlife she supports. The number of Samango monkeys in South Africa’s Afromontane forests is also dwindling because of habitat loss. If the Giant’s seedlings are not left to grow to their full majestic size, forest eco-systems like this are sure to disappear for good.
The Giant is part of a series of five films about five of the iconic trees in Southern Africa. Also featured in the series is a Camelthorn in the Kalahari, a Baobab in Zimbabwe, a Sausage Tree in the Okavango Delta, and a Namaqua Rock Fig in Namaqualand.
Rooted Media produced and filmed The Giant and FrogFoot Filmes and Graphics were in charge for the Post Production of the series.
Rooted Media Contribution:
● Sound Recording
FrogFoot Films and Graphics Contribution:
● Offline Edit
● Online Edit
● Final Delivery