Australia -- land of the koala, kangaroo... and elephant

Feb 01, 2012
Juvenile elephants eat leaves from a tree in Sri Lanka in 2010. Elephants and maybe rhinoceroses could be introduced to Australia to chomp on an invasive African grass that also causes wildfires, according to an idea reported in a scientific journal on Wednesday.

Elephants and maybe rhinoceroses could be introduced to Australia to chomp on an invasive African grass that also causes wildfires, according to an idea reported in a scientific journal on Wednesday.

"A major source of fuel for wildfires in the monsoon tropics is gamba grass, a giant African grass that has invaded north Australia's savannas," said David Bowman, a professor of biology at the University of Tasmania.

"It is too big for marsupial grazers () and for cattle and buffalo, the largest feral mammals. But gamba grass is a great meal for elephants or rhinoceroses."

Bowman, writing in the prestigious British journal Nature, admitted that introducing wild elephants to Australia "may seem absurd."

"But the only other methods likely to control gamba grass involve using chemicals or physically clearing the land, which would destroy the habitat," he said.

"Using mega-herbivores may ultimately be more practical and cost-effective, and it would help to conserve animals that are threatened by poaching in their native environments."

Bowman noted the destruction of other species that have been introduced to Australia and stressed that if the tusker were introduced Downunder, the move would have to proceed very cautiously.

would have to monitor the effect on the ecoystem and numbers would have to be controlled to prevent over-breeding.

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User comments : 16

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Telekinetic
2.2 / 5 (12) Feb 01, 2012
I can see it now- "Throw another elephant on the barbie, mate!"
Sinister1811
1.4 / 5 (9) Feb 01, 2012
It's just a suggestion (and it might be a ridiculous one), but perhaps elephants and rhinoceroses could serve as proxies for the extinct Diprotodon and Macropus Titan - two extinct species of megafauna that were wiped out during the pleistocene era.
Jonseer
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 01, 2012
yet another stupid idea, especially the elephant. To assume that since the elephant and rhino are from Africa, that they'd restrict what they ate once in Australia to the invasive African grasses is mind bogglingly naive.

Elephants will eat any plant their digestive system can handle.
.
Sinister1811
1.6 / 5 (10) Feb 01, 2012
Another problem would be that they'd have no natural predators. Apart from Humans, of course.
Sinister1811
2.1 / 5 (11) Feb 01, 2012
http://www.livesc...ion.html

According to the Livescience article, they also suggest introducing Komodo Dragons, to replace the long extinct Megalania. As a predator, that could work.
Telekinetic
1.4 / 5 (9) Feb 01, 2012
Actually, the world's elephant population sorely needs to be replenished. This immigration is a good idea.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Feb 02, 2012
Another problem would be that they'd have no natural predators

They don't have any natural predators in Africa, either.
kaasinees
1 / 5 (2) Feb 02, 2012
yet another stupid idea, especially the elephant. To assume that since the elephant and rhino are from Africa, that they'd restrict what they ate once in Australia to the invasive African grasses is mind bogglingly naive.

Elephants will eat any plant their digestive system can handle.
.


Would you hunt for meat if you could just eat delicious fruits all day? i wouldnt.
Egleton
1 / 5 (2) Feb 02, 2012
As a fellow sentient creature elephants should be allowed to colonise virgin lands. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Life is not preserved in aspic.
When India collided with Eurasia all sorts of biological mayhem erupted. But that was OK because it was natural?

I am interested in what happened to Australia's vulture population. No Carrion eaters and what have you got? Flies.
Import vultures.
Telekinetic
1.4 / 5 (10) Feb 02, 2012
To allay concern over the possibility of overgrazing by elephants in their new Australian home, it is a vast continent capable of sustaining more herds than Kenya and other African countries they're native to. Australia ain't Staten Island.
TransmissionDump
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 02, 2012
Egleton: I was under the impression our excessive fly population was due to the sheer amount of poop excreted mainly from cattle farming.

We've never had a population of native vultures to reduce carrion to bones although our crows and ravens seem to do a wonderful job at that. I've often seen wedge tail eagles chowing down on a dead roo but they tend to leave the ones that have "matured" in the sun alone preferring to eat freshly killed ones. Crows and ravens on the other hand will strip the sun dried jerky from a carcass.
Sean_W
1 / 5 (5) Feb 02, 2012
http://www.livescience.com/18245-elephant-fire-solution.html

According to the Livescience article, they also suggest introducing Komodo Dragons, to replace the long extinct Megalania. As a predator, that could work.


Yikes! They should stick with the elephants. Elephants will only trample you or crush you against the ground with their foreheads. Komodos will rip a chunk out of you then follow you around while you bleed and get infected from their purulent bite. Then they start to get nasty.
jsa09
not rated yet Feb 05, 2012
Introduce the komodo then, while you are watching the water hole so you don't get eaten by a croc, the komodo can snack on from out of the scrub on the high side.

I suppose the elephant will not be any worse than the camels or water buffalo, Or, if it is the landscape will change and eventually we will get used to it. Like people get used to living in cities.
Egleton
1 / 5 (2) Feb 05, 2012
TransmissionDump. Why do you say that Australia has never had vultures?
If there are crows there should be vultures. Vultures are excellent fliers.
Crows and wedge tail eagles are nothing compared with how quickly vultures get rid of a carcass. They descend in hordes and everything is gone in 30 Min.

After eating the vultures are helpless. Aboriginals knock down a wallaby with a waddie and then hide in the bushes. As soon as the vultures have gorged themselves the Aboriginals get to eat the vultures and the wallaby.
Callippo
1 / 5 (2) Feb 05, 2012
At any case, the number of elephants can be controlled easily. But I do suspect, they will consume the Australian trees first.
tysoncable
1 / 5 (2) Feb 05, 2012
why not i say, we've already donkey, camel, goat, cattle and horse roaming free as a bird throughout most of australia. an elephant and a host of other african native wildlife wouldnt hurt. good for tourism. good for hunting. and if we add lions, leopards, tigers and the like, good for our outback communities too :)