When you picture the wildlife of Africa, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Rolling savannas? African elephants? Or tall trees?
Two of the most iconic things to Africa’s wildlife are African elephants and baobab trees. Both of these things can grow to enormous heights and live for long periods of time.
These two share a very special relationship. Before you start asking what it is or do elephants eat baobab trees?
Here is what elephant research has found about African elephants and baobab trees coexist and rely on each other to survive.
Baobabs are a type of tree that grows in the low-lying areas of Africa and Australia. These trees can grow up to 5 to 20 meters. Based on carbon dating information, these trees can live for 3,000 years.
Baobabs can store water inside their trunks. During the rainy season, the baobab’s trunks expand to save water. Then when the dry seasons come, its trunks shrink. These trees need water to survive.
Their ability to store lots of water during the rainy seasons is what helps them to survive the dry seasons. These trees can store up to 120,000 liters of water.
Do elephants eat baobab trees?
As one of the largest animals on land, elephants have the capability to rip the trunks and branches of one of the tallest trees in Africa. Elephants will eat baobab trees for these two reasons.
Elephants are the giant herbivores of the savannas. They are continually munching on trees, grasses, fruits and barks. One of their favorite trees, however, is the baobab trees.
As stated above, these trees are known to store water inside their trunks. When there are dry seasons or over populations, elephants retrieve water from these trees.
The bark of baobabs is soft enough for elephants to rip off the bark. Elephants will reach the stored water by ripping off the bark or entire branches. Once these animals have removed the protective bark from the tree, they will reach the inner tree.
This part of the tree is like a sponge that collects all the water. Elephants will rip a piece of the inner trees and chew on it to retrieve the water. Overtime, baobab trees can start to fall and dry out from the damage that elephants have done.
Even though elephants can knock down baobab trees, they also help them tremendously. Baobab trees not only store water, but they also produce fruits. Its fruits have a hard shell that protects the flesh and seeds.
Elephants can crack these fruits open and eat the inside of the fruits. Since elephants eat the fruit, they carry the seeds with them. As they move along the savannas, they disperse seeds through their dung.
In this process, elephants help spread the baobab seeds to new locations for them to grow. The African wildlife benefits from this tremendously because it creates new homes and food sources for other species.
At the end of the day, both these animals benefit greatly from each other to survive. That is why elephant conservation is essential for ecosystems. You can help save elephants by helping our elephant research.
At For Elephants, we are using scientific research to make informed conservation changes to keep elephants alive. Donate to our research today!