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Africa's ancient baobab, with its distinctive swollen trunk and known as the "tree of life," is under a new and mysterious threat, with some of the largest and oldest dying abruptly in recent years. Nine of the 13 oldest baobabs, aged between 1,000 and 2,500 years, have died over the past dozen years, according to a study published in the scientific journal Nature Plants.Baobabs stud southern Africa's hot, dry stretches of savanna and are often in areas roamed by elephants, rhinos and other wildlife.Elephants help to propagate the trees when they eat baobab fruit, with seeds often sprouting in the nutritious elephant dung.People also use the tart baobab fruit to make drinks and mix it with milk for a yogurtlike food, or simply shelter in the trees' shade on a sweltering summer day.
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