Monday, March 24, 2014

Dung Beetles Have The Right Of Way 3.23.14

After our geology excursion, we headed straight for Addo Elephant National Park. We were faced with the sight of two elephants skulls when we pulled up to the gate.

And when we passed through the gate, we saw a sign that declared “Dung Beetles Have the Right of Way”. Um… what could that possibly mean?

It turns out that there is a population of dung beetles in the park. These little critters run around and roll balls of elephant dung and lay eggs in them. The sign warned drivers against running over the rolls of dung to keep up the population of dung beetles in the park.

But we didn't come to gape at the adorable creepiness of dung beetles. We stopped by to learn more about the big guys – the elephants.

Zoologist Prof. Graham Kerley gave us a history of the park and its native elephants and we quickly got around to actually seeing the animals. While usually we consider a large population of elephants to be solely beneficial to their environment, elephants actually are a threat to plant diversity in the park. Large gathering of elephants around water holes have started to convert the surrounding bush into large grassy areas, decreasing the number of plant species that would flourish near a water source and in the shade of the bush. What can we do about it? People are not too sure.

And while you are contemplating that fact, here are some photos of those beautiful giants.

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