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Prodigous Planters in The Wild

March 11, 2017


A lady by the name of Sally Cameron, an ardent conservationist living in Florida, writes an Infogram entitled Organic Lesson, Live the Natural Lifestyle. She sent The Elephant Story an article entitled 5 Animals That Have an Unusual Seed Disposal Role, www.organiclesson.com/animals-seed-dispersal-plant-preservation. The five animals with unusual seed dispersal roles are cougars, fishes, lizards, ants and, you guessed it, elephants. In the interest of time and space, we will address our favorite herbivorous friend, the elephant. In actual fact, I learned that elephants were frugivores in that they prefer fruit, which everyone around elephants knows, though few would know that term. By way of reference, adult elephants consume from 220 to over 600 pounds of grasses, tree foliage, bark, twigs and other vegetables per day. In fact, over 80% of their day is spent eating and foraging.

Now, if you have ever ridden an elephant through the bush and you are anxious for a cold beverage at the end of the day, the elephant will stop at will and eat when it sees a tasty morsel. There is not one thing in positive reinforcement elephant training you can do to move it along until it is ready. Moreover, you can never discern the difference in what trees are appealing and warrant a stop and those that are passed up. Moreover, size and difficulty have nothing to do with the appeal or the challenge. Do you think the rider below is meditating or thinking about a cold Singha beer?


You should know that the buffet is not restricted to the deep rain forest as this mother has found something appealing about this scrawny tree in the savannah.


Now we are at the point of Sally's elephant headline which sets it all out and references a study conducted in the Congo forest.


The authors of the research -- Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz and Steve Blake -- published their study, Megagardeners of the forest - the role of seed dispersal in Acta Oecologica, in 2011. This very comprehensive study required extensive analysis of elephant dung to evaluate seed dispersal. A significant conclusion is the massive losses in elephant numbers in the last several millennia, and particularly the past recent decades, is due to the African ivory demand in China, and it will have a significant impact on forest ecosystem dynamics. 

However, the author would have to say that the forests of The Republic of Congo, where the study was conducted, survived much better than did those of its neighbors Cabinda, the enclave of Angola, and western Democratic Republic of Congo where the forests were destroyed by the need for charcoal and the incessant warfare where most wild animals were consumed for food. As the author's company has had a position in all three countries, it is more than an idle observation.

So where do we go with all of this? Obviously, there are many more aspects to elephant conservation and their natural habitats than we have ever considered. I am going to suggest that John Roberts of The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation dive into the study as we will have a complete quiz in Moo Baan Chang, Baan Ta Klang at The Elephant Story polo tournament in June. Also, we should all tip our hats to the scientists who went through so much elephant dung. It is one thing to do it to extract Black Ivory Coffee cherries but it is quite another to find and evaluate seeds and their dispersal. In actual fact, there are so many more facets to saving this planet than we can ever imagine.

 

 

 
Designed as a team tee for The Elephant Story Invitational Elephant Polo Tournament in Moo Baan Chang, Surin, Thailand, these tee's feature criss-crossed elephant polo mallets, The Elephant Story acronym (TES) and Logo.
 
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