Latest discovery on Kilimanjaro is the 81.5 metres tall tree, making it Africa’s tallest tree at the moment.
Before this discovery Africa’s non-indigenous but tallest tree was a specimen of the introduced Sydney blue gum (Eucalyptus saligna) in Limpopo, South Africa, which died in 2006. Interestingly both trees have the same height.
The new tallest tree in Africa was discovered by Andreas Hemp and his team in a remote valley on Kilimanjaro mountain which is equally historic for being Africa’s highest mountain.
20 years ago, Dr Andreas Hemp from the University of Bayreuth in Germany spotted a bunch of tall Entandrophragma excelsum trees while exploring Mount Kilimanjaro’s vegetation.
Andreas and his team recently revisited the vegetation to measure their heights accurately using new tools.
According to Kilimanjaro Experience,
“A team of German scientists had used laser instruments to size 32 specimens in the region between 2012 and 2016, discovering that the ten tallest individuals ranged between 59.2 metres and the towering 81.5 metre behemoth; the trees were aged between 500 and 600 years old.”
The team has been studying the vegetation of Kilimanjaro for more than 25 years.
The recently discovered tree is one of the tallest trees ever seen in Africa. With an 81.5 metres height, Africa’s tallest tree is about 34.1 metres lower than the world’s tallest tree.
The tallest tree in the world is a 115.6 metre coast red redwood located in northern California, United States.
The report went on reveal the fallacy in the assumption that Africa’s environmental condition hinders the growth of trees. It is assumed that is the reason why there is no world acclaimed tall trees in Africa.
The latest discovery has debunked the assumption. Rather, it points to the sad fact that Africa does not conduct sufficient researches and study of trees.
“Africa is not generally considered to be home to such tall trees. But while many scientists have claimed that this is due to unfavourable environmental conditions, this new discovery suggests that perhaps there’s merely been an inadequate amount of research conducted across the continent.”
See Also: 10 Tallest Buildings in Africa
The Tanzanian government is hopeful that the discovery will increase tourism at the site.
In 2013, Mount Kilimanjaro was declared one of the seven wonders of Africa. Attaching Africa’s tallest tree to the mountain location will boost the international tourism relevance of the location.
For both record and tourist purposes, scientists have suggested that the valleys where the trees were found should be protected in order to avoid major implications for biodiversity and ecosystems.
“Since only a few square kilometres of this habitat of Entandrophragma are left, Kilimanjaro and Africa are about to lose not only a unique biogeographical archive with highly diverse vegetation, but also its tallest trees,”
“The inclusion of these valleys into the immediately neighbouring Kilimanjaro National Park would mean an excellent and urgent possibility for protection.”
Scientists say the valleys in which it was found should be considered for urgent protection. They stress that the number of large old trees in tropical forests is fast declining.