This was shot just after sunrise in the Menabe region of western Madagascar.

These baobab trees are of the species Adansonia grandidieri and are endemic to Madagascar. Baobab trees - about 30 meters in height and up to 800 years old - are known locally as renala (Malagasy for "mother of the forest"), are a legacy of the dense tropical forests that once thrived on Madagascar.

The trees did not originally tower in isolation over the landscape of scrub but stood in dense forest. Over the years, as the country's population grew, the forests were cleared for agriculture, leaving only the baobab trees, which the locals preserved as much in respect as for their value as a food source and building material.

©2009 Marsel van Oosten, All Rights Reserved. This image is not available for use on websites, blogs or other media without the explicit written permission of the photographer.

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