Umbrella Thorn Acacia is one of the most recognizable trees of the African savanna.
The Umbrella Thorn grows up to 20 meters high and has a spreading, flat-topped crown that gives it its name. The bark on the Acacia is black to gray in color and feels rough. The branches on the Acacia are gnarled. The Umbrella Thorn has two types of thorns on the branches; long, straight, brownish thorns and shorter, hooked thorns that grow alongside each other. The thorns grow in pairs and disguise themselves in the clusters of flowers that grow on the Acacia.
The Acacia provides shade for the animals of the savanna. The trunk of the tree makes very good charcoal and firewood. The flowers on the Acacia provide a good source of honey in some regions. The stem of the tree is used to treat asthma, and diarrhea. The bark of the acacia is used as a disinfectant, and the pods are used to make porridge.
The Acacia is not endangered, and it is actually plentiful. There are over 700 species of the Acacia in Africa
Swaziland is a small mountainous kingdom in Southern Africa. Despite the modernization of their nation the Swazi people have retained strong ties to their culture and traditions. One tradition that has continued in rural areas is the handing down of basket-weaving skills from mother to daughter. Historically, crafts produced in Swaziland were functional tools for use in the home. Over the years as modernization has enveloped the nation, the rich craft tradition has evolved from functional to decorative. Swazi baskets known as titja were traditionally woven from reeds and palms and used as food bowls. While the basic technique remains, dyed sisal is now used to weave titja in colorful and intricate patterns. Basket weaving has therefore become an artistic rather than functional medium.
About the Giraffe.
Early written records described the giraffe as "magnificent in appearance, bizarre in form, unique in gait, colossal in height and inoffensive in character." Ancient cultures in Africa revered the giraffe, as some modern cultures do today, and commonly depicted it in prehistoric rock and cave paintings. Unknown outside of Africa, this animal so excited man's curiosity that it was sometimes sent as a diplomatic gift to other countries; one of the earliest records tells of a giraffe going from Kenya to China in 1415. The animal was thought to be a cross between a camel and a leopard, a mistake immortalized in the giraffe's scientific name of Giraffa camelopardalis.
The giraffe is the tallest living animal, uniquely adapted to reach vegetation inaccessible to other herbivores. Giraffes have a distinctive walking gait, moving both right legs forward, then both left. At a gallop, however, the giraffe simultaneously swings the hind legs ahead of and outside the front legs, reaching speeds of 35 miles an hour. It has unusually elastic blood vessels with a series of valves that help offset the sudden buildup of blood (and to prevent fainting) when the head is raised, lowered or swung quickly. Giraffe "horns" are actually knobs covered with skin and hair above the eyes that protect the head from injury.