Skip to main content

Building

A better future

through education, skill development and research

LEARN MORE

Destructive Elephants Increase Feeding Opportunities for Black Rhinos

Monday, September 16, 2013 8:08 am EDT
"We show that the biomass of food potentially available to rhinoceros initially increases as elephants open-up pathways in otherwise impenetrable thicket"

As one of Africa’s largest land animals, it may not be surprising that elephants leave a trail of destruction when foraging in the bush; however, new research in Biotropicashows how rhinos can more than double their food intake by following in the wake of their destructive neighbors.

The research focused on black rhinoceros, Diceros bicornis, at the Addo Elephant National Park in South Africa. The study shows that the felling of trees and similar acts of destruction by elephants allow rhinos to access otherwise impenetrable thicket and increase potential food intake by 223%.

“We show that the biomass of food potentially available to rhinoceros initially increases as elephants open-up pathways in otherwise impenetrable thicket,” said Marietjie Landman from the Centre for African Conservation Ecology.

However, while rhinos may benefit from using ‘elephant pathways’ in the short term, overuse and increased competition will reduce food availability, forcing rhinos to forage in grasslands rather than tree thickets.

Business Wire NewsHQsm