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Keystone Species - The African Elephant

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How the African Elephant Keeps the Savannah an Open Grassland
Keystone Species - The African Elephant

What Causes It

The elephants that live on the African savannah have a huge influence on their ecosystem. As their herds move across the savannah, they feed on trees, breaking them up, often by pulling them up by the roots and crushing them. Without this tree clearing, the savannah would quickly grow from grassland to woodland.

How Does It Affect Us

The grassland habitat is the home of hundreds of species like gazelles, zebras, ostrich, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, wildebeest, meerkat, baboon, termites and dung beetles. They are not adapted for woodland life. All theses species depend on the African elephants to keep their habitat cleared and remaining grassland. Then there are species that feed on these grassland species like cheetahs, lions, hyenas, crocodiles, jackals, wild dogs, and vultures. These animals also depend on the African elephant to keep the grasslands open for their survival. The African elephant is another important keystone species.

What Has Been Done to Fix It

Protecting African elephants in their habitat will protect this delicate ecosystem balance.

What Can You Do to Help

Join a conservation group that protects elephants and their habitat.

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Post Assessment Quiz

(Included in PDF)

Keystone Species - Otters, Alligators and Elephants - Read and React

1. What happened to the other species in the coastal waters when the sea otter was hunted almost to extinction:
2. What was the balance between the American alligator, the gar and the game fish?
3. How does the elephant keep the African savannah habitat right for the other animals living there?

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Amsel, Sheri. "Keystone Species - The African Elephant" Exploring Nature Educational Resource ©2005-2023. March 26, 2023
< > has more than 2,000 illustrated animals. Read about them, color them, label them, learn to draw them.