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The Threats to Biodiversity-African Elephants

The Threats to Biodiversity-African Elephants

The Threats to Biodiversity-African Elephants

Background Information

The earth consists of ecosystems. The ecosystem comprises biotic aspects, which are the living components of an ecosystem, and abiotic aspects, which are the nonliving components of an ecosystem. Biotic aspects include all living organisms, such as plants and animals, while abiotic aspects include nonliving things, such as chemical components. All these aspects interact in various ways, creating life in an ecosystem; hence, abiotic aspects influence biotic aspects, such as the use of sunlight in plants for photosynthesis. Subsequently, there are various ecosystems around the earth filled with life. In addition, they are all different, contributing to biodiversity, which is the variation in all life forms in ecosystems (Magurran, 2010). Climate change has a direct effect on ecosystems, thereby threatening biodiversity. However, in most cases, biodiversity restores balance in an ecosystem as a countermeasure to the damage to the ecosystem (Pires et al., 2018). In some cases where climate change has caused extensive damage to the ecosystems, biodiversity is influenced negatively.

Types of Biomes

The large numbers of live organisms and vegetation in an ecosystem make up biomes. Subsequently, a biome is a large collection of different types of vegetation and life in the ecosystem. There are various types of biomes depending on forms of life and types of vegetation, including “terrestrial biomes; which include Tropical forest, Savanna, Desert, Chaparral, Temperate grassland, Temperate broadleaf, forest, Northern coniferous, forest, Tundra, High mountains (coniferous forest and alpine tundra), and Polar ice, and aquatic biomes; which are freshwater and marine biomes” (Simon et al., 2019).

The African elephants in the terrestrial biome

Each biome comprises different life forms, such as the African elephants found in the terrestrial biome, indicating biodiversity. The savanna is an example of a terrestrial biome, which is characterized by dispersed trees and tall grass. These compositions of savanna provide food for herbivores, such as elephants; however, they also leave it susceptible to climate change adversities such as natural fires. The seasons of the savanna have evident differences influenced by temperatures that are warm and average rainfall. Aside from the herbivores, other animals also characterize the savannas, including carnivores such as lions.

Other biomes include freshwater, marine, desert, and tropical biomes. Freshwater biomes are aquatic biomes with low salt concentrations, including lakes and rivers (Simon et al., 2019). Freshwater biomes are essential for all life forms. The other biome is the marine biome, characterized by minimal salt concentration, including oceans, composed of various life forms. The other biome is the tropical biome, characterized by warm temperatures, and the consistency of rainfall influences the type of vegetation present in this biome. Subsequently, there are tropical rain and dry forests. The other biome is the desert biome, characterized by minimal and inconsistent rainfall attributed to dry conditions. Consequently, most vegetation in deserts possesses water-storing abilities, such as the cactus.  Accordingly, following certain human actions and climate change, life forms in various biomes are threatened, including the African elephants.

Threats to elephants in Africa

There are two species of African elephant: the African forest elephant and the African savanna elephant. Their population has been decreasing over the past couple of years due to various reasons. Some of these reasons include poaching for trade, conflict with humans, and loss of habitat. The most significant threat to elephants is poaching, contributing to the decrease in elephant population in Africa.

The first threat is the poaching of elephants. Elephants’ tusks are made up of ivory, which poachers target to obtain and sell to their buyers (Wittemyer et al., 2014). However, poaching is illegal in most African countries, reducing poaching activities and eliminating them completely. Subsequently, many elephants are found dead with their tusks missing.

The second threat is a conflict with humans (Sitati et al., 2005). Elephants require large habitats to acquire all the resources they require. However, with the consistent population increase, people encroach on land occupied by elephants. Subsequently, elephants’ habitats were reduced, and conflicts with humans began. Conflicts with humans arise from their invasion of farms consuming their crops.

The third threat is loss of habitat. Following encroachment of land by humans and climate change resulting in natural fires, elephants are forced out of their natural habitats, reducing their access to resources they need for survival (Sitati et al., 2005), leading to a decrease in their population. All these factors limit biodiversity in ecosystems due to the significance of elephants in an ecosystem.

Accordingly, the proposal to restore the elephant population, thus preserving elephants and promoting biodiversity, includes various approaches. They include the illegalization of all forms of poaching, eviction of people encroaching on land previously belonging to the wild, fencing of territories belonging to the wild, and controlling environmental damage, thereby limiting adversities of climate change.

Biodiversity in the increase and decline of the elephant population

Climate change is the most significant threat to biodiversity. As illustrated, the savanna, where elephants live, is characterized by dispersed trees and tall grass, essential for the elephants’ food. Consistently, climate change influences the temperatures and the consistency of rainfall, affecting the growth and health of trees, grass, and other savanna vegetation (Simon et al., 2019). In addition, once biodiversity is threatened, the availability of resources is reduced, which is attributed to the migration of most animals. However, elephants’ migrations are limited by the encroachment of land by humans, their size, and the landscapes of their habitats, leading to a decrease in the elephant population.

Further, biodiversity illustrates the variation in resources. This variation might reflect animal preference (Tsalyuk et al., 2019). The invasion of farms and consumption of crops illustrates that with the loss of resources, elephants’ preference for resources is not limited. Therefore, the elephant population might increase with the availability of resources.

Types of population growth models that can increase or decrease the elephant population

Various changes influence the size of a population. Subsequently, these changes lead to either a decrease or an increase in its size. New births lead to an increase, while deaths lead to a decrease. Thus, various models are the exponential population growth model, which illustrates population growth under perfect conditions, and the logistic population growth model, which illustrates population growth under consideration of challenges it might face. Therefore, the logistic population growth model is essential in predicting elephant population size due to the consideration of all challenges that may be solved to ensure population increase while overlooking challenges that might lead to elephant population decrease.

Community population effects on restoring high elephant population

Human population size is one of the threats facing the elephant population. The constant increase in populations leads to the encroachment of elephants’ habitats. This reduces elephants’ habitats, contributing to the decrease in the elephant population. Also, the encroachment of land leads to the human and elephant conflict when elephants invade their farms in search of food. This conflict might lead to the killing of elephants. Additionally, poverty might push people of a community to illegal poaching of elephants as a means of making ends meet, reducing the elephant population.

Thus, the consideration of communities is essential in restoring the high elephant population through education on elephant importance and the illegalization of elephant poaching.

Conclusion

In conclusion, all biotic and abiotic forms are essential in the balance of an ecosystem. The imbalances in an ecosystem that stem from various aspects of life lead to the reduction of biodiversity. Therefore, to preserve biodiversity and preserve species, these factors influencing the balance in an ecosystem must be controlled.

References

Magurran, A. (2010). Q&A: What is biodiversity? BMC Biology, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1741-7007-8-145

Pires, A., Srivastava, D., & Farjalla, V. (2018). Is Biodiversity Able to Buffer Ecosystems from Climate Change? What We Know and What We Don’t. Bioscience, 68(4), 273-280. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biy013

Simon, E., Dickey, J., Reece, J., & Burton, R. (2019). Campbell Essential Biology. Pearson.

SITATI, N., WALPOLE, M., & LEADER-WILLIAMS, N. (2005). Factors affecting susceptibility of farms to crop raiding by African elephants: using a predictive model to mitigate conflict. Journal Of Applied Ecology, 42(6), 1175-1182. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2005.01091.x

Tsalyuk, M., Kilian, W., Reineking, B., & Getz, W. (2019). Temporal variation in resource selection of African elephants follows long‐term variability in resource availability. Ecological Monographs, 89(2), e01348. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecm.1348

Wittemyer, G., Northrup, J., Blanc, J., Douglas-Hamilton, I., Omondi, P., & Burnham, K. (2014). Illegal killing for ivory drives global decline in African elephants. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences, 111(36), 13117-13121. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1403984111

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