The environmental researcher at Siwa Nature Reserve, Ali Al-Marakbi, says that the acacia plant is “the cornerstone of all desert ecosystems in Egypt, especially in the reserve, in addition to being an important genetic resource”, describing it as an “integrated ecosystem within the reserve.”
Al-Marakbi added to the “Sky News Arabia” website, that this plant is the largest wild species belonging to the horny family, and it can be classified as a tree or shrub that has a distinctive umbrella shape, with brown and somewhat twisted branches and covered with long and straight thorns, while the flowers are white to cream, and the leaves Compound, the fruit is spiral, twisted, and horn-like, and its length ranges between 10 and 12 centimeters.
Al-Marakbi explains that acacia spreads naturally in many places in Egypt, such as the Sinai Peninsula, Elba Mountain in the Eastern Desert, and in Siwa Nature Reserve in the eastern sector of it, specifically in the Tabbagh depression, which is located 90 km east of Siwa Oasis.
According to the researcher, there is a link that unites the inhabitants of the desert with this shrub because of its importance in their lives, as it is involved in a number of traditional treatments, as its leaves and the gum that flows from its stems are used as medicine for some eye diseases, and the aqueous solution of this gum is used in the treatment of respiratory diseases, And the bark powder as an antiseptic for wounds, while the seeds are useful in treating diarrhea, according to the popular beliefs of the people of the desert.
On the other hand, the tree represents a source of food and shade for most of the herbivores in valleys and deserts such as deer, and is for them “food and shelter”.
Danger of extinction
But Al-Marakbi explains that the acacia trees are exposed to threats and challenges, most notably drought and overgrazing, as well as the many infringements to which the plant is exposed, such as uprooting it with the aim of using it for domestic purposes and others.
In order to protect the acacia plant from extinction, the administration of Siwa Nature Reserve is leading a campaign to educate people about the importance of this species, which has recently shown its return by informing the residents of the area about any infringements on its trees, the environmental researcher told Sky News Arabia.
He points out that “the interest in the acacia plant began with the second phase of the Egyptian-Italian cooperation project, which was launched at the beginning of the millennium, where the project team worked at the time to number the acacia trees and follow them, and prepare a map for their distribution in order to know the threats that threaten them.”
Al-Marakbi concluded his speech by noting that the administration of the reserve intends, during the coming period, to work on the propagation and cultivation of the acacia plant, to protect it from extinction.