For over a millennia this lone acacia tree grew against all odds and survived all matters of climate change in the extremes of the Nigerian Sahara desert. It stood as a symbol of hope to tired travelers and stood as a symbol to everyone that no matter what you were up against you could prevail. And for years it did just that, all until one disastrous day in 1974.
This beautiful acacia was the sole tree in the region for over 250 miles of desert and used as a landmark for caravans and cherished the little bit of shade it provided.
The actual miracle of how it survived in the desert is just a heartening fact in itself, yet when you couple it with the sad tale of how it was destroyed then we are reminded of how human senselessness continues to destroy wonders. You see this region would once have been a huge and plentiful forest, but over the years and due to climate change everything died leaving this one tree to stand. Trees seldom become famous and why should they? We see trees everywhere we walk and there are many around the world. But this acacia did and was known as the Tree of Ténéré, without a doubt it was the most isolated tree in the world.
In the 1930s the tree was even portrayed on official military maps for European commanders and the French even camped by it extensively. They knew that if the tree could survive there must be water, so dug down and did find a water source 100 feet underground! This tree that was only 10 feet tall had roots that gree down underground for over 100 feet. The estimates put the trees age to be over 300 years old, the only survivor of when the region was less arid and less extreme.
So how did it finally fall then? Not a let down by mother nature alas it was the carelessness of humans that made its downfall. A truck driver, who was allegedly drunk at the time, somehow managed to run into the only obstacle for over 250 miles. And there you have it, in one foolish deed, we destroyed a link to the past. Not only a link to the past but also an important cultural aspect of the Tuareg people who were a tribe from the region.
However its legacy does live on, the skeleton of the tree was relocated to a museum and built into a mausoleum. It is propped up like a relic from ancient Rome and reminds us that we always need to remember the past, to not make the same mistakes!