Elephants are ‘Gardeners of Forests’

A young Bornean pygmy elephant slaps his head with tree leaves

They chew down large amounts of vegetation. They roam and forage far and wide in forests. And it’s a good thing too because by doing so elephants serve as the “gardeners” of those forests.

So says elephant expert Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz, who is the principal investigator for the Management and Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME), a research project between Perhilitan and the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, where he is an associate professor at the School of Environmental Science.

All sunshine and roses then. Or is it? The trouble, of course, is that owing to habitat loss and wanton poaching, the numbers of elephants in Malaysian forests, as well as other shrinking forests across the region, have plummeted in recent decades. Only around 2,500 endemic Bornean pygmy elephants (Elephas maximus borneensis) remain in Malaysia.

That is why these wonderful gardeners of rainforests need our help. They need ample forested roaming grounds. Poaching must be stamped out once and for all. And officials need to continue working with locals to lessen the chances of potentially deadly conflicts between the pachyderms and people with who they share their ancestral forests.

Link: http://cleanmalaysia.com/2016/09/10/elephants-gardeners-forests/

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