WHY ARE LARGE HERBIVORES IMPORTANT?
Large herbivores, such as elephants, rhinos or bison, feed on, and/or trample, woody vegetation. In doing so, they prevent woodlands to encroach grassland ecosystems. Large herbivores can therefore be labelled as landscape architects, creating a mosaic or patchwork of different habitat types with a diverse vegetation structure.
This diversity of habitats enables many different plant species to grow, which in turn support a higher diversity of medium-sized and smaller animal species.
WHAT IF LARGE HERBIVORES DISAPPEARED?
The loss of large herbivores, particularly in the case of elephants and the extinction of Pleistocene megafauna, has been demonstrated to result in the proliferation of woodlands, with fewer plant species, more uniform vegetation structures, and lower diversity of smaller animal species.