Wild African olive trees can live for 1,000 years — if left untouched. In Masai cultures they are sacred, and sprigs are used as an ingredient in traditional medicines and to flavor milk in a calabash. I’m planting a tiny sapling by the Mara River in Kenya, making peace with an ecosystem that’s under attack.
“This is one of several indigenous species disappearing from our forest,” explains gardener Ernesto as he breaks up balls of dry, fibrous elephant manure to give my little tree the best possible start. Using seeds collected in the forest by local women, he nurtures a nursery of small hopes for the future, planted by tourists on the fragile edge of the Masai Mara.
It’s estimated that ten of these trees