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Elephant ecological function

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One of the most remarkable features of an elephant is its sheer size. It is what makes them ecologically hard to replace. While working closely with the indigenous tribes, we explored the influence of elephants in the seed dispersal network; a network interconnected with a broad community of plants and animals. Within the network, there are megafaunal-syndrome fruits - some, alike mangoes and durians, have very large seeds highly dependent on megafaunas (large animals) for dispersal. Over the years, we have uncovered many of these seeds from giant dung piles! Apart from being important long-distance forest gardeners, elephants are also ecosystem engineers capable of modifying habitats. We investigated elephants’ foraging impacts on the forest and observed their use of mineral licks. Such landscape modifications are vital as they facilitate usage by smaller mammals, creating a dynamic ecosystem.

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