LIFE... THROUGH THE EYES OF A TREE
THE HOLLOW HEART
1 x 48 minutes
This is the incredible story of a tree that has been around for eight hundred years… that can withstand the harshest conditions… and that is more loved by insects, birds and animals than any other… an enormous Baobab rooted on the Savannah of Malilangwe Game Reserve in southern Zimbabwe.
In winter, the Baobab can withstand extreme drought by storing water in its trunk. This makes it a valuable commodity for elephant during the drier seasons. The gentle giants break out pieces of the tree’s flesh, which they eat, damaging the Baobab. Fortunately, these trees have the ability to heal over time. But the elephant have left their mark on the tree… a massive cave. This is how the tree with “The Hollow Heart” came to be.
Many use this cave for shelter. A colony of wasps has constructed their nest on the cave’s wall, and fiercely defend the tree against intruders. Skinks hunt on the cave’s floor, and at night, a Barn Owl roosts at the top of the cavern.
Even though the Baobab’s branches are bare of foliage in winter, they are not empty… Large, bulky masses of interconnecting twigs hang from some the tree’s limbs. These nests belong to colonies of Red-billed Buffalo Weavers. The endangered White-backed Vulture also builds its nest in fork on top of the tree. Year by year, the huge bundle of sticks grows as the pair adds more to the structure.
In spring, leaves start forming on the Baobab’s branches. The fresh foliage entices caterpillars to the tree, and these lure insect-eating birds that feast on the worms. Cotton Stainer Bugs also take to the Baobab’s trunk to suck the tree’s sap. And Assassin Bugs feed on the Stainer Bugs, mimicking them to a surprising degree.
As the days go by, long drooping stalks with large white flowers start hanging from the tree’s branches. It is believed that fruit bats pollinate the Baobab’s flowers at night, but there is no record of this in Southern Africa. Instead, Bush-babies pollinate the blooms when they drink the flower’s nectar. Wasps and African honeybees are also attracted to the blooms, and the bees construct their nest in the tree’s hollow branches.
At the end of summer, the Baobab starts producing its fruit. The large capsules are not succulent fruit, they have hard, woody shells and a sour, powdery substance inside. The Vitamin C rich fruit is one of the most nutritious food sources in Malilangwe. An elephant plays an important role in the distribution of the Baobab’s seeds. The fruit just goes in one end, woody skin and all, and the seeds come out the other, complete with their own handy pile of fertilizer.
This Baobab has been around for eight hundred years. Hopefully, the tree and its offspring will be around for some time still… Oh, what stories will those colossal trees tell?
The Hollow Heart 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 Yellowwood in the Soutpansberg Mountains, a Sausage Tree in the Okavango Delta, and a Namaqua Rock Fig in Namaqualand.
Rooted Media produced and filmed The Hollow Heart 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