The Camelthorn tree is one of the country's most common, found all over Namibia including the Namib Desert. The name does not refer to a camel, but rather to the Afrikaans name of the giraffe, meaning camel-horse, hence the old botanical name (Acacia giraffe). In areas such as Sesriem Canyon, they provide welcome shade to tourists after climbing the magnificent sand dunes at Sossusvlei. Camelthorn trees have a deep root system, which reflect the result of decent rains in the following growth season. In severe drought periods, their seedpods make up a major part of the survival rations of most animals.
The Camelthorn is easily identified by large, grey, kidney-shaped, seed-carrying pods. During the dry season fallen flowers and pods are eaten by livestock and game, especially elephant, giraffe and eland. Cattle, donkeys and goats eat the shoots. The pods are highly nutritious and are collected in commercial and communal areas to feed domestic stock in times of drought, and although nutritious, the seeds can become insect-infested causing stock losses. The straight, paired-thorns, protect the trees from over-browsing.
Namibian birds, rodents and mankind feed from the Camelthorn. The seeds can be finely crushed and used as a coffee substitute and the gum exuded by the tree is edible. Tree rats, insects, scorpions, spiders and lizards, all visit the camelthorn, and they also provide nesting sites for numerous species of bird.
The wood has many uses especially as poles in the construction of houses. It can be used as firewood, axe-handles and knobkieries. Many fences have been erected using the wood of the Camelthorn.
Visitors to Namibia should take note that the camelthorn is a protected species and may not be damaged, cut or chopped.Plants of Namibia Wildlife of Namibia
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