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THE SAHARA

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Author Topic: THE SAHARA  (Read 4015 times)
Bianca
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« on: May 16, 2009, 10:51:56 pm »










Written
By Louis Werner
Photographed
By Kevin Bubriski

SAUDIARAMCOWORLD

There are only 233 of them on Earth growing in their native soil. Some are as young as 30 years old;
others may date back two millennia. They can be 22 meters (70') tall and up to 12 meters (38') around.
In the local language, Tamashek, they are named individually, by some attribute:

“The Carpet One” or

“The One by the Flat Stones.”


Many of them drink from seasonal pools. Others must wait for the rare cloudburst to send rainwater rushing past. All somehow have learned to survive in highland “islands” within the world’s largest desert. And only a few people, including Wawa Muhammad Hamid and Muhammad Beddiaf, have seen nearly every one of them.

Hamid is a warden in southeastern Algeria’s Tassili n’Ajjer National Park, and Beddiaf is an archeologist who has walked almost every one of the park’s 100,000 hectares (386 sq mi). What is dear to both their hearts, and what they have sworn to protect, is Cupressus dupreziana—in English, the Saharan cypress, or tarout in Tamashek—listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as one of Earth’s rarest tree species.

In botanical terminology, “young specimens grown in protected conditions are first bushy, later developing
a straight central axis. Bark is reddish-brown, with deep longitudinal fissures.... Branches diverge from the trunk at large angles, curving upwards.... Leaves are cupressoid scales....”

All this makes for a dignified tree, a kind of weather- and drought-beaten version of the Mediterranean cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) immortalized in the paintings of Vincent van Gogh—and all the more impressive for its harsh setting. But this comparison means little to Hamid.

“I played in these trees as a boy,” he says, remembering his childhood as a goatherd. “We took their shade, and used them as meeting points and landmarks. A traveling man might leave his belongings hanging in a bag from their limbs for years at a time, and know that everything would be waiting for him safely whenever he returned.”
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Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.


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