Special Report

20 Reasons We Really Need Elephants

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6. Dispersing seeds

Elephants travel long distances and along the way leave dung that contains seeds from the plants they ingest. These seeds grow into new vegetation, such as grass, bushes, and trees.

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7. Salt licks

Elephants create salt licks that benefit other animals. Because plains grass is not enough to sustain animals on the savanna, elephants use their sensitive trunks to churn up the earth and put pieces of soil in their mouths with their trunks. Elephants have dug holes several feet deep in this manner, making minerals accessible to other animals. Evidence of this has been found in Kenya’s Mount Elgon National Park, and in southern India and Sumatra.

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8. Dung replaces nutrients

When it comes to No. 2, elephants are No. 1. An adult African elephant can generate up to 300 pounds of dung each day. African farmers put the pachyderm poop to good use by using it to replenish soil depleted by farming.

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9. Meet the beetles

Elephant dung also is an important food source for dung beetles, who are in turn a food source for honey badgers. An absence of dung disrupts the African food chain.

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10. Mosquito repellent

Elephant dung can be used for mosquito repellent. Some people in Africa burn dried-up elephant droppings to ward off mosquitoes. That might be better than putting it on your body.