Last week we read an interesting article in Biosphere magazine that said the dramatic reduction in the number of Asian elephants is having a negative impact on dominant tree species in the area. The article made us think why it is so important that we protect elephants. Hunting, and poaching, in Thailand have led to the dramatic decline in the number of elephants,. The decline has been so dramatic that there are now only 2000 remaining. Hunters often use the excuse that elephants damage trees, but that argument doesn’t really give the full picture. When elephants eat vegetation they are actually contributing to their ecosystem by dispersing seeds. The decline in the number of elephants means that fewer seeds are being dispersed and therefore dominant trees in the environment are also reducing in numbers.
Trees are incredibly important for a number of reasons; they anchor top soil allowing other plants to grow, they use CO2 from the atmosphere to photosynthesise which can reduce the negative impact of global warming and they can provide food and resources for humans.
It is interesting to see how the reduction of one species can have such an impact on another and it makes it all the more important to protect the species around the world that are dwindling in numbers as their presence, or lack thereof, has a knock on effect. If we protect our elephants then they will conserve our trees.