From: Duke Chonicle
Duke researchers find poaching elephants hurts forest ecosystems
Forest elephants are massive animals that can weigh anywhere from two-and-a-half to seven tons. They have big ears, big feet and big tusks that money-seeking poachers will kill for.
John Poulsen, assistant professor of tropical ecology, has been researching the effects of poaching and decline in forest elephant populations of West and Central Africa, as well as the impacts on the forest’s tree species and related ecosystems.
“Elephants are what are called ecological engineers,” Poulsen said. “They have a significant impact on their habitat, and structure and composition of the habitat.”
Poaching not only hurts the size and strength of a herd, but also destroys the ecosystem maintained by the elephants’ movement through the forest. With forest elephants being the largest mammals on land, their disappearing presence will have sizable effect on the forest around them.