Here's what African Elephants eat and the impact their diet has on the environment. 

What is an African elephant’s diet?

All living things on this planet needs food to survive. From the smallest bird to the largest animal, they all need food and water to survive. When an animal does not have access to one of these two things, their existence is in danger.

One animal, in particular, needs a lot of food to survive and reproduce - is the African elephant. Before you ask what do African elephants eat, you need to know that they need large amounts of food. However, their habitats are decreasing and it’s bring devastating effects to elephants and ecosystems. 

What do African elephants eat?

Many people have the misconception that because African Elephants are the largest land animals, they must eat everything. However, that is not the case. African elephants are herbivorous

Herbivores are animals that only eat plants. Which means that they do not kill other animals to get their nutrients. African elephants typically eat everything vegetarian that is in their ecosystem. They can consume everything from: 

  • Leaves

  • Bark

  • Twigs

  • Shrubs

  • Bushes

  • Fruits

  • Roots

  • Flowers

Since these animals are extremely large, they require a ton to eat. They use their height to reach the tops of trees and mountain regions they might live

How much do African elephants eat?

You do not get to be the largest land animal by only eating small quantities of food. African elephants require a lot of food. On average, an African elephant can eat between 200-600 pounds a day! They also can drink up to 50 gallons of water a day. That is about the size of a bathtub! 

African elephants eat night and day. These massive animals spend as much as 18 hours a day just looking for food. By always looking for food, they only sleep for short amounts of time.

What impact does African elephants have on the environment? 

Many people do not know how vital African elephants are to the environment. You might be wondering how a 13-foot tall animal can help the environment? Wouldn’t they destroy it?

African elephants do a lot for the ecosystems. They help the smallest birds to the tiniest seeds. One way that they help is by creating holes. When these elephants are looking for water, they develop holes. Which, in return, help build homes for small animals and birds to nest. These holes also help to bring water that other animals can use. 

Another way that elephants help the environment is by distributing seeds. Since they don’t have tremendous digestive systems, they break down only 40 percent of the food they eat. The rest of the food and seeds they eat then pass through their digestive tract. As they travel around looking for food, they distribute seeds and help the vegetation. 

If you would like to learn more about African Elephants or see them first hand, sign-up for one of our expeditions to our South Africa lab. Contact us today to learn more about it! 

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