| || The fourth largest island on Earth, Madagascar is slightly larger than France. It separated from Africa more than 100 million years ago, and its plants and animals have since evolved independently – 80 percent of its species are endemic to the island. Among these are seven of the world’s eight known species of baobab. These trees can store several thousand liters (about a thousand gallons) of water in their huge barrel-shaped trunks, allowing them to survive the dry season, which in the Toliara region lasts from April to November. Baobabs are a precious resource. Their bark is used to build huts and manufacture ropes; their fruits, similar to gourds, and their leaves, which are rich in calcium, are eaten; the seeds are crushed to extract their oil, used to make soap; and the trees’ sap is used to manufacture glue. The ingenious use of local natural resources is a reminder that many species contain precious resources (notably chemicals and pharmaceuticals). This is one argument for conserving biodiversity, as agreed at the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
Visit the YAB Gallery for books and signed prints