Song of the Lost Clan Information and Resources on the Young Adult Novel

Why Elephant Migration is Important

January 21, 2015 · By Angela Render
Wayfinding Elephants

To continue our International Wayfinding Month series, let’s take a quick look at why elephant migration is important. Migratory routes are important to the elephants to ensure that there are enough food and water resources to support the herd. Elephants also leave a huge positive impact on the places they’ve been.

Considered a “keystone species,” elephants cause considerable damage to their environment, but this damage can have positive results. A keystone species is one that significantly alters their environment and whose removal from a habitat reduces the diversity of the plants, insects, and animals living there. A few of these positive effects are:

  • Digging out watering holes that other animals can use during the dry season.
  • Spreading seeds across huge distances and giving those plants a chance to thrive.
  • Providing habitat for microbes and insects like the dung beetle.
  • Creating more open woodland so that pioneer grasses and the herds of grazers that eat them can flourish.
  • Returning nutrients to the soil by knocking over long lived trees like the Baobob.

Places where the elephant has disappeared such as the Kenya’s Tiva river in Tsavo, which dries out seasonally, essentially died in terms of animal populations because the elephant-dug watering holes were no longer available. There have been instances where humans have used elephant navigation to find fresh water and graze for their herds (Source: National Geographic).

It’s important to understand the intricacies of elephant migratory paths if we’re to develop a symbiotic relationship with elephants in the wild as humans encroach more and more on traditional elephant habitat.

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