The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reports that around 415,000 African elephants are left in the wild. As for Asian elephants, there are about 40,000-50,000 elephants left in Asia.
If elephants were to be lost forever, the forests and Savannahs would not be the same. That is why conservation strategies for African elephants and Asian elephants are critical before it is too late. Here is the role that elephants play in their habitats.
Elephants as gardeners
As you might already know, elephants are the largest land mammals. To power their large bodies, they need a lot of food. Elephants eat up to 600 pounds of food a day! They consume so much food because they are constantly eating. Elephants can eat for 16 hours a day.
Elephants are herbivores - this means that their diet consists of plants. They typically eat vegetation like grass, leaves, bushes, fruits and even bark. When elephants eat these plants or fruits, they eat them completely, including their seeds.
For these large mammals to find all that food, they are constantly on the move. Elephants are always on the search for their next meals. Along their journey across the forests and Savannahs, they disperse seeds through their dung.
Elephants will eat plants from one location and then break those plants down in their stomachs along their journey. When this occurs, it increases their chances of the seeds getting deposited into the ground. They have been doing this for so long that many plants rely on elephants for reproducing.
Elephants as landscapers
Aside from gardening work, elephants also do landscaping. Since elephants are constantly searching for food, they look high and low. They knock down trees and eat vegetation. By knocking down trees, elephants help clear paths for small creatures to get across the forests.
Plus, it also helps spread the seeds on the tree for new growth and more trees. Research has found that elephants tend to knock down trees in fertile locations. By choosing these types of landscapes, they are helping increase the likelihood of those trees growing.
Why are elephants losing their homes?
Although elephants do so much for their habitats, elephants are at risk of being lost. Both African forest elephants and Asian elephants are losing their homes because of deforestation. The forests are being cut down for timbers, crops and homes.
The loss of forests has left many elephants with limited places to roam. This situation has also caused conflicts between elephants and humans in terms of land. Elephants can roam into farmers' crops and villages. It can become a dangerous situation for both elephants and humans.
How to save elephants
There is still time to save the elephants. Currently, scientists are researching the conservation strategies for African elephants. At For Elephants, we are partnered with Elephants Alive to help research conservation strategies for African elephants in the wild and zoos. One way you can help contribute to our research is with a donation. Donate now or contact us for more information.