A study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that elephants—some of the last remaining megaherbivores in rainforests—are crucial to protecting the planet. Analyzing the animals’ feeding habits in Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo and LuiKotale, researchers discerned that elephants are picky eaters whose choices aid the capture of carbon. They tend to opt for leaves from trees with lower wood density, helping the trees avoid overcrowding and enabling the growth of larger trees that sequester more carbon. Elephants also prefer fruit that stems from higher-density wood trees, which helps to disperse their seeds throughout the forest. Though seemingly contradictory, by eating trees elephants help mitigate carbon dioxide in the air. Learn more about how they fight climate change at INVERSE.
Image courtesy of World Wildlife/Matt Bango