Happy EleFACT Friday. Did you know that elephants are considered to be a “keystone species”? This means that in the wild, elephants are critical to the survival of the other plants and animals in the ecosystem. Keystone species can range from the tiniest of plants to the largest predators, but each plays an important role in keeping the other organisms in the system alive.
This phrase was coined in the 1960s by ecologist Robert Paine, who studied starfish along the Pacific coastline in Washington state. The starfish ate the mussels, keeping the mussel population balanced and allowing many other species to thrive. After removing the starfish from the ecosystem, the mussel population increased and crowded out other species. Paine’s important work changed how we look at wild species and unfortunately, since then, the vital role of keystone species in ecosystems is not fully appreciated until the species are gone.
In the wild, elephants pave the way through dense jungles, making paths for other species to travel. They knock over trees, allowing other plant life an opportunity to receive sunlight exposure and, as a result, see better growth. Through an elephant’s digestion, the dung that they create is very nutrient rich and provides food for insects, birds, and even some mammals. It’s also a great fertilizer, as we’ve seen here at sanctuary. Because elephants eat certain high grasses in the wild, the lower grasses get exposed to other grazing plains species, like impala.
These are just a few examples of the way that elephants keep the rest of their ecosystems thriving. By respecting the environments and the lives of wild elephants, we also support and protect hundreds of other species of animals, plants, and insects.
Photo of Maia
John saysJuly 16, 2021 at 3:25 pm
Very interesting post. Thank you for the continuing education of your admirers.
SHEILA saysJuly 16, 2021 at 3:53 pm
YES INDEED❤️. 🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘❤️ELEPHANTS DO SO MUCH FOR ENVIRONMENT FROM THEIR FOOTSTEPS! DUNG! DIGGING! PUSHING TREES DOWN! THEY IMPACT ECOSYSTEM TREMENDOUSLY FOR GROWTH OF TREES AND PLANTS BY CREATING WATER RESERVOIRS FOR TINY PLANTS FROM THEIR FOOT IMPRINTS! FEEDING DUNG BEETLES AND BIRDS! 👍👍ELEPHANTS R TRULY AMAZING AND MOST WONDERFUL CREATURES GOD CREATED🙏
Anita Janusz-Wong saysJuly 16, 2021 at 7:55 pm
Your sunsets photos are amazing! And I am sure Maia is smiling….plenty of reasons to smile! We so need elephants where they meant to be…either on savannas or in the forests to keep all those environments healthy…and it is such a joy to have those places alive and thriving….and not many of them left at all! even though elephants are not natives to South America they are doing no harm to your forests, quite the opposite as you observe it daily…:-)) so glad they can be there..:-)))
Wim saysJuly 17, 2021 at 3:13 am
Completely spot on. They’ve been doing this green gardening long before mankind appeared.
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