THE IMPORTANCE OF ELEPHANTS IN THE ECOSYSTEM
Sent to Elephanatics By Sally Cameron
The population of elephants across the world is at a vulnerable state. According to the endangered species list by the WWF, there are at least seven species of elephants that are either vulnerable or critically endangered. There is no better time than now to remind ourselves about the important role these majestic creatures serve to their surrounding ecosystem. In this post, we cover two roles that elephants provide for their surrounding environment.
Elephants as Gardeners
Elephants can serve two important purposes for plants. First, they can help spread the seeds across long distances. This is important because it allows for less competition for nutrient and water between the parent and the child plants. The second purpose is fulfilled by the elephant’s dung, which acts as a fertilizer for not just the seeds but for the nutrient-depleted soil. In the following infographic by Organic Lesson, you can learn some fun facts on five animals that aid the seed dispersal process. According to a study conducted on Congo forest elephants, 94% of their dung contained seeds from 73 different tree species! Talk about being the ultimate gardener.
Elephants as Constructors
The mighty elephants also serve an important role in shaping the ecosystem. They use their strength to pull down trees and break up thick bushes. This allows for smaller animals to thrive in the same environment. In Africa, elephants can also use their tusks to dig water holes in dry riverbeds. This again benefits other animals that may have otherwise had great difficulty finding water.