We’re not exactly sure why, but every dry season the elephants find a specific root in the habitat that they like to dig up and eat. We don’t know exactly what kind of root it is; we’ve sent samples off for testing, but they were too dry to test by the time they arrived at the lab. (We’re going to try again this year.) While still a mystery to us, this behavior happens like clockwork every year.
It’s possible that these roots may have some mineral or property that they girls enjoy, or that might help their systems somehow. They utilize their feet, nails, and trunks to dig up the roots, which makes the dirt around them into a complete dust pit, so it’s easy for us to find the spots where the roots grow. We’ve never witnessed any damage to nearby trees or plants, so they must recover easily from the elephants’ snacking.
At the moment, we may not know what the plant is, but the girls seem to be healthy and happy every dry season while eating these roots. Clearly the elephants know more than we do about what their systems need – or, perhaps, the roots are just really delicious seasonal snacks.
Photo of Guillermina enjoying some sanctuary greenery