We all know by now that as a keystone species, elephants have a significant impact on the animal kingdom as a whole and the surrounding environment. Recent studies have shown that elephants and other large animals can boost plant diversity in the areas they inhabit and can positively impact the effects of climate change.
We’ve shared before that new plants can sprout from elephant dung. As silly of a fact as this may sound, dispersing seeds and fertilizing different areas of an ecosystem can truly improve soil. In the wild, elephants can actually protect areas from wildfires by creating gaps in the vegetation as they graze, by trampling down grass (like in the video we shared of Maia yesterday) or breaking up larger bushes or shrubs. This can also allow more light to reach the floor of the forest or wildlife floor, giving lower-lying plants a better chance to grow.
Eaten vegetation or gaps in the grass also expose surfaces on the ground, which can reflect back more sunlight and create a cooling effect. Here, in the region where Elephant Sanctuary Brazil is located, there is a lack of some plant vegetation that is believed to be due to a reduced number of megafauna, which results from a lack of seed dispersal of certain types of larger seeded plants. Animals like tapirs, which are endangered, help disperse these seeds and contribute to the diversity of the flora and fauna in the ecosystem. It is theorized that elephants could help fill the void of extinct megafauna that contributed to the biodiversity of the environment, and could be beneficial to the ecosystem as a whole.
Biodiversity is becoming an important area of study as we learn more and more that pieces of the ecosystem rely on one another to thrive. Large animal species, like elephants, deserve the protection and respect as an imperative part of our global ecosystems.
The link to the study about Brazilian megafauna can be found here:
Photo of Lady, looking lovely