African Ele­phants Sig­nal Marula Har­vest Time

Tourism Tattler - - CONSERVATION -

Dur­ing the months of Feb­ru­ary/March each year hun­dreds of African Ele­phants de­scend on the marula trees of the Val­ley of Oli­fants in the Lowveld of Limpopo. This serves as a sig­nal to lo­cal vil­lagers that it is time to har­vest the ripened fruit for their big­gest global ex­port, Amarula liqueur.

The marula fruit har­vest is led mostly by the women of the re­gion, which is rich in nat­u­ral and cul­tural her­itage and in­cludes 25 lo­cal vil­lages, as well as game farms, wildlife sanc­tu­ar­ies and tribal land, stretch­ing into the Kruger Na­tional Park.

This year, ele­phant fam­i­lies trekked here to re­peat their an­nual feast of fruit-laden marula trees, some of which reach up to nine me­ters in height.

It is a spec­tac­u­lar sight that will not en­dure if we fail to con­serve these ma­jes­tic crea­tures. To­day only about 350 000 African Ele­phants still sur­vive in the wild. Their num­bers are dwin­dling year on year due to il­le­gal poaching that is claim­ing on av­er­age 96 ele­phant lives per day. But we are fight­ing back.

When the ele­phants have had their fill, the lo­cals col­lect the fallen marula fruit to sell to the Amarula plant in Pha­l­aborwa, with the bless­ing of the lo­cal tribal chiefs.

A se­lect few also as­sist with the metic­u­lous fruit sort­ing, which is nor­mally ac­com­pa­nied by the singing of tra­di­tional songs. This process has been the prac­tice

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