Special Report

20 Reasons We Really Need Elephants

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1. Protecting wilderness

Protecting elephants raises the profile for protecting wildernesses and helps fund organizations such as the Elephant Crisis Fund, which claims an elephant is killed for its tusks every 15 minutes.

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2. Well-packed trunk

An elephant’s trunk is one of its signature features, used by the animal to trumpet warnings to other members of the herd. It is also used to dig for water — elephants have a knack for finding water — in hostile environments.

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3. Sharing the water

When elephants find water for themselves in places such as parched riverbeds, they also provide sustenance for other animals, not to mention humans.

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4. Gigantic appetite

Earth’s largest living land animals consume massive quantities of vegetation. They may spend up to 18 hours a day feeding and eat as much as 600 pounds of food. Much of that is grasses, tree foliage, bark, and twigs. Eating that much vegetation allows sunlight to reach the forest floor, helping lower-lying plants to grow.

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5. Surging through gaps

By creating spaces in forests and other heavily grown areas, elephants open up the landscape and give other animals more pathways to graze.