The baobab is an iconic and prehistoric species which predates both mankind and the splitting of the continents over 200 million years ago. Native to the African savannah where the climate is extremely dry and arid, it is a symbol of life and positivity in a landscape where little else can thrive. Over time, the Baobab has adapted to its environment. It is a succulent, which means that during the rainy season it absorbs and stores water in its vast trunk, enabling it to produce a nutrient-dense fruit in the dry season when all around is dry and arid. This is how it became known as “The Tree of Life”. Adansonia digitata is named after the French botanist Michel Adanson, who undertook an 18th-century exploration of Senegal. Baobabs are widely distributed in belts across Africa. Of the nine species accepted as of April 2018, six are native to Madagascar, two are native to mainland Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and one is native to Australia. One of the mainland African species also occurs on Madagascar, but it is not a native of that island. It was introduced in ancient times to south Asia and during the colonial era to the Caribbean. The African and Australian baobabs are almost identical despite having separated more than 100 million years ago, probably the Australian trees got there by oceanic dispersal.
The last place we stayed in Madagascar was one of the nicest of the lovely places we visited. Anjajavy Reserve and Lodge is located on a private reserve, which today is 960 hectares (2,372 acres) in size. It is in the northwest of the country, sort of near Nosey Be but a lot more exclusive and safe. Located on the West coast of Madagascar 120 km North of Majunga, Anjajavy is a remote fishing village on an extraordinary peninsula. Anjajavy le Lodge is member of Relais & Châteaux and ranks as a four stars plus establishment on European standards. It is ideal for the demanding eco-tourist with a beachfront location, great food and amenities such as massage. Anjajavy le lodge is one of Madagascar’s luxury lodges, it is the perfect place to chill and relax after visiting the rest of Madagascar.
Last year I had the privilege of visiting Madagascar to see the unique animals and plants often found only there. The prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana separated the Madagascar–Antarctica–India landmass from the Africa–South America landmass around 135 million years ago (mya). Madagascar later split from India about 88 mya, allowing plants and animals on the island to evolve in relative isolation. Fossils from Africa and some tests of nuclear DNA suggest that lemurs made their way to Madagascar between 40 and 52 mya. Other mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequence comparisons offer an alternative date range of 62 to 65 mya. An ancestral lemur population is thought to have inadvertently rafted to the island on a floating mat of vegetation, although hypotheses for land bridges and island hopping have also been proposed. Any extended ocean voyage without fresh water or food would prove difficult for a large, warm-blooded mammal, but today many small, nocturnal species of lemur hibernate, which allows them to lower their metabolism and become dormant while living off fat reserves facilitating the ocean voyage. Having undergone their own independent evolution on Madagascar, lemurs have diversified to fill many niches normally filled by other types of mammals. They include the smallest primates in the world, and once included some of the largest. Lemurs belong to a group called prosimian primates, defined as all primates that are neither monkeys nor apes. Though there are many species of lemur, there are very few individuals. Lemurs are considered the most endangered group of animals on the planet.