ELEPHANTS, ECOSYSTEM ENGINEERS
Elephants are one of Africa’s most iconic species.
Elephants are the descendant of mammoths. While their precious tusks have put them at the center of an ever-increasing network of illegal wildlife trade.
Elephants play a significant role in maintaining the ecosystem. Due to this unique role, they are called ‘keystone species’.
They provide some services to their natural habitat.
- Digging for water
In dry environment, elephants can dig for water using their tusks, in order to survive. By doing this, elephants make a precious resource, which is also available for other animals too. They create large waterholes for them to bathe.
2. Cleaning out the vegetation
Can you imagine the Savannah landscape without elephants? When elephants move on, the Savannah grows into scrubs.
The habits of eating, create gaps in the vegetation; which cause the growth of other plants; providing food for other species too and also creating pathways for other animals to pass, such as: gorillas, forest hog, bush pig, bongs, buffalo and duiker.
When elephants reach the high branches of acacia trees, this movement causes pods fall from the tree; which become food source for other species.
3. Dispersing seeds
Elephants can disperse seeds at distance over 57 kilometers. Some plants, depend totally on elephants for their dispersal.
4. Providing nutrients and Habitat
50% of what elephants eat is actually digested. Elephant dung is very rich in minerals and fiber. Therefore it is a great fertilizer and extremely important for nutrient-rich-soils.
Some ground and insect species can find the dung as food, also.
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