"In findings published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
(PNAS), Saint Louis University researchers and colleagues report that elephants
play a key role in creating forests which store more atmospheric carbon and
maintaining the biodiversity of forests in Africa. If the already critically
endangered elephants become extinct, rainforest of central and west Africa, the
second largest rainforest on earth, would lose between six and nine percent of
their ability to capture atmospheric carbon, amplifying planetary warming.
Assistant professor of biology at Saint Louis University and senior author on
the paper Stephen Blake, Ph.D., has spent much of his career dedicated to
studying elephants. In the current paper, Blake, lead author Fabio Berzaghi
from the Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Sciences (LSCE), France, and
colleagues document exactly how the ecology of megaherbivores has such a strong
influence on carbon retention in African rainforests.
"Elephants have been hunted by humans for millennia," Blake said. "As a result,
African forest elephants are critically endangered. The argument that everybody
loves elephants hasn't raised sufficient support to stop the killing. Shifting
the argument for elephant conservation toward the role forest elephants play in
maintaining the biodiversity of the forest, that losing elephants would mean
losing forest biodiversity, hasn't worked either, as numbers continue to fall.
We can now add the robust conclusion that if we lose forest elephants, we will
be doing a global disservice to climate change mitigation. The importance of
forest elephants for climate mitigation must be taken seriously by policy
makers to generate the support needed for elephant conservation. The role of
forest elephants in our global environment is too important to ignore.""
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics