Did you know that elephants are a keystone species in their environments? Neither did I until I read through Cheche Winnie’s post on the planet’s largest living land mammal.
Keystone species are species that an ecosystem relies on to function properly. Without these key species an ecosystem would change drastically as the food chain would be thrown off its tracks causing the environment to change.
Elephants are beautifully complex intelligent large mammals that inhabit regions of both Africa and Asia. They play the role of a keystone species in their ecosystems by preserving the great grassland environments in which they live. They are both nature’s bulldozers and gardeners.
From a conservation standpoint, if we lose elephants, we also lose the hundreds of species that depend upon them for survival as well as the natural ecosystems they produce. This would be a true environmental tragedy.
It is on this fact of environmental tragedy that I must point out that elephants are endangered species and are threatened by humans. Elephants unfortunately are often poached for their tusks. Human desire for ivory has caused heavy hunting of the species to occur, which heavily damages the species numbers and the environments in which they live.
Adult elephants have no natural predators except for humans. So that leaves it to us. Do we want elephants to continue walking the Earth? Do we want to preserve the grasslands in which they live? Do we want to save the hundreds of species that rely on them? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, get involved!