Ecocentricity Blog: Don't Forget the Elephant

Primary tabs

Ecocentricity Blog: Don't Forget the Elephant

tweet me:
Why does biodiversity matter? The answer is because the African elephant isn’t unique. Countless species on Earth form an integral and necessary part of their ecosystems. #Ecocentricity http://bit.ly/2EJbSQS

Multimedia from this Release

Summary

Why does biodiversity matter? The answer is because the African elephant isn’t unique. Countless species on Earth form an integral and necessary part of their ecosystems.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 - 10:30am

CAMPAIGN: Ecocentricity Blog

CONTENT: Blog

It ain’t number one on the bucket list, but it’s pretty dang close. And if you’ve ever been to South Africa and gone on a safari, then you should know just how jealous I am of you. Very jealous.

Chantel and I intend to take the 15-hour flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg one of these days. I’d say that three different sirens are calling to us from across the Atlantic. First is our general desire to encounter other cultures. South Africa has a rich tradition and a remarkable history, and we’d love to experience them in person.

Second is the desire to see landscapes far different than what we have at home. Earth is truly rich in its environments! From Alaska’s glaciers to the roar of the Amazon River, Uluru in the heart of Australia (been there!) to Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, our planet is remarkable. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but you must be blind to not find it here. I hear that South Africa is truly special.

Finally, South Africa’s fauna would make the recycled air of that long flight worth every single stale breath. To see rhinoceroses, elephants, lions and leopards in their natural ecosystems would be a dream come true. My only concern is if I would be able to detach the camera viewfinder from my eye after days of keeping it firmly pressed to my face.

For every photo that a star-struck safarian (probably not the term, but go with it) takes of one of those magnificent creatures, just think for a moment how interconnected they are with their ecosystems. Take the African elephant, for instance.

I’ll start with the obvious. African elephants eat grass, tree bark, branches, leaves, roots, reeds, and wild fruit. Those forms of life make it possible for these elephants to exist. We may not snap as many shots of the grass and trees on safari, but we don’t get to take photos of the elephants without them.

Let’s go a level deeper. As the elephants wander through the savannah munching on trees, they clear the landscape and make room for the grass to grow. Without these large, roaming animals, the savannah would turn into a dense woodland, changing the ecosystem. I bet the grasses are grateful (or they would be if they could be), and so too are other animals that graze on those grasses.

Then there are the reproductive services that the elephants provide. Since elephants eat so much and roam so far, they make excellent carriers of the seeds of plants in their diets. Without elephants and their droppings, the ecosystem would look fundamentally different.

Why does biodiversity matter? The answer is because the African elephant isn’t unique. Countless species on Earth form an integral and necessary part of their ecosystems. When one species goes extinct, there is a very good chance that another species was depending upon it for food, population control, or other ecosystem services. If you knock a domino over, there’s a good chance others will follow.

We should be sensitive to the issue of biodiversity loss simply because all of life has inherent worth. But remember this too - we are a species, just like the African elephant, the honey bee, and the bluefin tuna. We are just as interconnected with other species, whether we realize it or not.

The bad news? Biodiversity loss is happening about 1000 times faster than it ordinarily should. The good news? Since humans are driving that biodiversity loss, we have the power to stop it. That’s a cause worth working for.

Contact

Valerie Bennett
+1 (770) 317-5858
Ray C. Anderson Foundation
Keywords: #Ecocentricity | Environment | John A. Lanier | Life Below Water | Life on Land | Ray C. Anderson Foundation | Wildlife Conservation | biodiversity | endangered species | species extinction

CAMPAIGN: Ecocentricity Blog

CONTENT: Blog