For decades, an acacia tree in the Nigerian Sahara served as a lone landmark in a deserted landscape. It was reported to be the only tree for 250 miles and was used as a marker by Tuareg traders and caravans on their travels across the expanse. However, one day in 1973, it was mysteriously knocked down. It has now been revealed that the cause might have been the fault of a drunk driver.

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The tree used to serve as a reminder that life can survive in the most harsh of places, and its destruction was devastating to local tribes. Even European military forces in the area had used the tree on their maps, calling it the L’Arbre du Ténéré (The Tree of Tenere).

The tree’s survival was dependent on its massive roots, which while only serving a tree that was 10 feet tall, reportedly stretched 100 feet below ground to the water table. It was estimated to be over 300 years old and a true survivor of the desert’s bleak conditions.

However, Stephen Messenger of has discovered that the tree’s life came to an end when, in 1973, a drunk Libyan truck driver collided with it, shattering his truck. According toa report, the unidentified driver was drunk and was not stopped and identified.

Due to the tree’s symbolic meaning to the local population, it was taken to the National Museum of Niger and placed in a mausoleum where it remains to this day. For travellers in the desert, the tree’s location has been replaced by a simple metal sculpture. The shrine is a testament to man’s wanton destruction of nature as it struggles to survive.

Via Tree Hugger

Images: Wikipedia – Michel Mazeau/Holger Reineccius