Elephant extinction could increase global warming

Elephant extinction could increase global warming

Mexico City.- Elephants are so important in creating forests that store carbon in Africa that their extinction could result in an increase in global warming, says a study published in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).”

Currently, African forest elephants are critically endangered. If they were to become extinct, the tropical forests of the central and western parts of that continent would gradually lose between 6 and 9 percent of their capacity to sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

Since it is the second largest tropical forest on Earth, this would amplify global warming, according to a statement from the US-based University of St. Louis.

Despite arguments such as that all people love these animals or that they are essential for conserving forest biodiversity, their number continues to decline, warned Stephen Blake, co-author of the research.

“If we lose forest elephants, we will be doing a global disservice to climate change mitigation. Policy makers need to take seriously the importance of forest elephants for climate mitigation to generate the necessary support for forest conservation. elephant,” he said.

How do they help the forests?

Within a forest there are light-wood trees that store a low carbon density and other heavy-wood trees capable of storing a high carbon density.

The former grow fast on other plants and trees to reach sunlight, while the latter are slow-growing and require less light because they adapt to shade.

Elephants eat more light wood trees because they taste better and are more nutritious.

In this way they favor heavy-wood trees because they reduce their competition for light, space, and soil nutrients. They also eat the fruits of these trees, so they help disperse their seeds through manure.

“They plant the forest with high-carbon trees and get rid of the ‘undergrowth’, which is the low-carbon trees,” Blake said.

There were once about 10 million elephants in Africa, but now fewer than 500,000 remain in isolated areas. One of its main current threats is poaching.

“As a global society, we can continue to hunt these highly social and intelligent animals and watch them go extinct or we can find ways to stop this illegal activity. Save the elephants and help save the planet. It’s that simple,” Blake said.

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