Have you ever wondered why elephants get so big? Thanks to their enormous size, they have been able to survive for thousands of years. Their size has allowed them to reach high food sources, knock down trees and find water underground.
Not only does their size benefit them but also their ecosystem. Our team wants to share with you the role and importance of African elephants in the ecosystem.
What is an ecosystem?
An ecosystem is a community of living organisms and nonliving things of their physical surroundings. This community usually consists of animals, plants, microorganisms, soil and rocks. There are different sizes of ecosystems and can be terrestrial or aquatic.
What is the elephant ecosystem?
Wild elephants are found in two parts of the world - Africa and Asia. The Asian elephants live in the dry or wet forests and grasslands of South and Southeast Asia.
As for the African elephants, they live in two different parts of Africa. The African forest elephants live in the forests of Gabon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Cameroon, Central Africa Republic and Ghana.
The African savanna elephants, also known as African bush elephants, live in grassy plains and bushlands of Eastern and Southern Africa.
The role and importance of African elephants in the ecosystem
African elephants create water sources.
When you are so large, creating holes in the ground is no problem. Take elephants, for instance. They use their size to create holes in the ground to find water. During droughts, African elephants will start to dig holes to find water that might be stored underground.
Elephants are not just helping themselves but also smaller species. Those water holes that they create become water sources for other species. These holes are essential, especially during droughts. Without elephants, some smaller species would not have access to water in their time of need.
African elephants act as pollinators.
Elephants spend a lot of time eating. To be exact, African elephants spend 12 to 18 hours a day eating. Since they eat so much, they are always on the move to find food sources. These magnificent creatures can walk up to 50 miles a day.
As elephants make their way to their next location, they drop dung filled with seeds along the way. Once on the ground, those seeds will begin to grow. The elephant dung helps act as a natural fertilizer helping the seeds sprout. This helps increase the biodiversity of plants and trees.
African elephants create homes for other species.
Another one of the roles and importance of African elephants in the ecosystem is creating homes for smaller creatures. Small species in the savanna do not have the size to knock down trees or create holes in the ground to create a home.
These animals rely on elephants to do that for them. African elephants use their powerful kicks and tusks to knock down trees. Small species will then use that as shelter. Plus, elephants help disperse seeds that grow into trees and plants that animals will call home.
How to save the elephant ecosystem
Elephants are losing their homes due to deforestation and human encroachment. This leads to elephants developing conflicts with humans. At For Elephants, we are partnered with Elephants Alive to help study the movement of elephants and help reduce human and elephant conflict. You can support our research by joining the “Herd of Heroes” and making a monthly donation. Join down below.