Hankies at the ready, this is a sad one. The Tree of Ténéré was a lone acacia tree that once stood in central Niger, in the remotest part of the western Sahara Desert. Astonishingly, it was the only tree in the surrounding 250 miles—making it officially the loneliest tree in the world, and, more importantly, a significant landmark on caravan routes traversing the open sands of the Sahara.
I say that the Tree of Ténéré stood in the Sahara, because the fact of the matter is that it no longer stands. Sadly, in 1973 the world’s loneliest tree met an ignominious end when it was knocked over by a drunken Libyan truck driver.
What remains of the tree was transported to a museum in the Nigerien capital, Niamey, and remains on display there. And, as it had proved such an important Saharan landmark, a metal sculptural replica was erected in its place.
So, alas, it may no longer stand in its rightful place, but at least in the centre of a city the legendary Tree of Ténéré is no longer lonely.