There's a reason why elephants love trees and knock them down! 

Updated: Why do elephants knock down trees?

One of the most frequently asked questions about elephants is where can you find elephants in the wild? Whether it is African or Asian elephants, you can find them where there is a lot of vegetation available. Both African and Asian elephants live in grasslands and rainforests. 

Elephants play a crucial role in keeping their environments healthy and thriving. Some people believe elephants harm their environments because they knock down trees, but little do they know this is actually beneficial for their ecosystems. Why do elephants knock down trees? Our South African elephant research team wants to give you insight into why elephants do this.

The diet of elephants

Before we can answer your question, you must first understand that elephants are very large animals. In order for them to power their bodies, they need lots and lots of food. 

The largest elephant out of all the elephants is the African savanna elephant. This elephant can grow up to 13 feet in height and weigh as much as 11 tons. The second biggest is the African forest elephant, which is only slightly smaller. And the smallest elephant is the Asian elephant, which can grow up to 12 feet and weigh up to seven tons. 

As you can tell, these animals are quite large. To power their large bodies, elephants consume 200-600 pounds of food each day. They need more than a simple side salad. These large mammals are herbivores, so they rely heavily on their environment to find their next meal. Elephants consume grasses, bushes, fruits and even trees

Why do elephants knock down trees?

One of the main reasons elephants knock down trees is for food. Elephants love to eat a tree's leaves, fruits and bark. In order for these animals to reach them, they usually knock them down. Elephants are so powerful they can knock down trees with a stomp or uproot them with their trunks

When droughts occur, trees play an essential part in the elephant's diet. Not only do they get food from the trees, but they also get water. In Africa, there are baobab trees that store water. Elephants make their way through the tree's bark to drink the stored water. This helps elephants get the water they need during the drought seasons.

How do elephants help their environments by knocking down trees

There is a misconception that elephants knocking down trees harms the ecosystem. However, South African elephant researchers theorize this action is helping the elephant’s ecosystem. By knocking down trees, elephants are helping disperse seeds, create pathways in forests, help plants get sunlight and make homes for smaller creatures. 

Elephants are quite particular about the trees they knock down. Researchers predict that elephants tend to knock down trees where the soil is fertile and water is available. By doing this, they choose fertile areas where new trees can flourish. 

Also, they are always traveling and helping spread the tree’s seeds through their dung. All those seeds they consume in one location get transported into another where they can flourish. The elephants are helping maintain biodiversity throughout their habitats.

Support our South African elephant research!

There is a lot to learn about elephants. You can help us continue to learn about elephants by donating to our research. We research elephants in the wild to help improve their living conditions in zoos. You can donate by joining our “Herd of Heroes” program. Join down below!

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