Elephants could be key to saving the planet



new report says that rewilding wildlife species and ecosystems worldwide can help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Elephants play a very important role in that: here is how.

We hear the bad news daily: climate change will destroy our planet Earth. What we don’t hear enough of, are the ways in which we can help prevent that. The ways in which, even mammals and other animals can help reduce the amount of carbon in the air. One of the solutions that we don’t talk about enough is elephants. Hear me out.

study done by Berzaghi in the National Park in the Republic of Congo showed that elephants are directly influencing carbon storage in the forest.

Firstly, they like to eat the leaves from trees with lower wood density, as these have more protein and less fiber. Specifically, these types of trees, are the ones that can contain less carbon dioxide. Meaning that the elephants leave the larger trees more space to grow and therefore more space to store carbon.

Secondly, these megaherbivores like to pick fruits from higher-density wood tree species, because of their higher sugar content. This type of tree is the one that can contain more carbon. By eating their fruits, the seeds get eaten as well. Like this, the elephants can walk several kilometres and defecate these very seeds on the go. The seeds eventually grow into trees, meaning that the forest will become bigger and bigger and contain more and more carbon. (inverse.com)

“There is no other animal displacing the same amount of seeds, contributing to a healthy ecosystem and biodiversity than the straight-tusked elephant”

The conclusion is, that forests and woods housing elephants, have higher storage of carbon dioxide, directly influencing climate change.

On top of that, by spreading the seeds in the forest with their dung, these animals are also contributing to protecting the ecosystem and biodiversity.

Another report, by NGO re-wild agrees with these findings and takes it one step further: “Rewilding just nine wildlife species would contribute more than 95% towards the global target of extracting 500bn metric tons of carbon dioxide from the
atmosphere by 2100. This would help target the Paris Agreement: to help cap the global temperature rise at less than 1.5C below pre-industrial levels.” Positive news reports.

Through their behavior, all these animals (bison, grey wolves, sea otters, fish, sharks, elephants, etc.) nourish the earth the ecosystems in which they live. They do this by eating certain plants, relocating themselves and spreading seeds and minerals to other places. Making it a complex and diverse place where multiple species can thrive. More plants can grow, and therefore more carbon is store .

“Fortunately, we have the technology to scrub CO2 from the atmosphere. It`s called nature.”

These solutions are all recognized by several global initiatives, including the UN climate action summit. The current plans are focused primarily on protecting and restoring forests and grasslands. The authorities are overlooking the aspect of rewilding the animal species that play a crucial role, positive news reports.

“Wildlife throughout their interaction with the environment, is the missing link between biodiversity and climate,”

As a lot of these species are on the brink of extinction, it is important we act now, while we still can. Human activity is destroying these natural habitats through livestock agriculture, deforestation, poaching, and so on. To re-introduce wildlife into areas where humans live, it is crucial to work closely with communities and address the social issues that nature conservation brings with it.

It is important to mention that of course, rewilding and rebuilding ecosystems and wildlife species is not the only solution, though it would contribute a whole lot. Stopping fossil fuels will remain the number one in tackling climate change.

From plants to insects to elephants to us people, we are all connected. One cannot live without the other. While we still can, protecting our world, means protecting ourselves.


Pictures of the Jabulani Herd and video about seed dispersal in elephant dung  shared by the HERD Trust.