Fairy Tale Forest

This unique forest is about 32 kilometres west of Okaukuejo and covers an area of approximately one square kilometre. The fairy-tale tree (Moringa ovalifolia) is to be found in Namibia only and occurs from Naukluft in the south to Kunene Region in the north. What makes the Fairy-Tale Forest unique is that the trunks of these trees are particularly knobbly except on the Halali hills where their trunks are fairly smooth and upright. The trees usually only grow on the slopes of mountains and hills and Etosha is the only place where the trees grow in such numbers on the plains.

The San People described them as upside-down trees since they believed the trees were thrown out of paradise in anger and landed upside-down.

Moringa ovalifolia

The genus Moringa consists of 9 species. These are found in southern Africa, north-eastern Africa, Madagascar and India. The only endemic southern African species, Moringa ovalifolia, is an inhabitant of northern Namibia and south-western Angola. This species is a smooth-stemmed, stem-succulent tree growing up to 7 metres tall. This species is very common on the many granitic and dolomitic hills of northern Namibia.

The species M. oleifera Lam. has been introduced to the western parts of southern Africa from India and is well established in eastern Zimbabwe. In South Africa, it is encountered in the Northern Province and KwaZulu-Natal, where it is highly prized for its edible leaves and horse-radish-flavoured roots.

Regrettably, these trees are enjoyed by the many elephants of the Park and many have been destroyed.

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