Known as the tree of life, baobabs can reach 100ft high and some date back 6,000 years. Now shocked scientists have found many of the oldest and largest baobabs in Africa are dying.

They made the discovery by chance during a study of the biology that enables the baobab to grow so large. Eight of the 13 most historic, and five of the six largest, had either died or were dying.

‘It is a disaster of unprecedented magnitude,’ said Prof Adrian Patrut of Babes-Bolyai University in Romania. He linked it to ‘significant’ climate change.