Elephants and rhinos integral to rainforest diversity

The disappearance of animals such as the rhinoceros and the elephant is reducing the biodiversity of rainforests.

These large herbivores have been integral to the structural diversity of rainforests in the South-East Asian region, according to research from the Unviersty of Nottingham in Malaysia.

Due to the lack of relative space, scarcity of light and absence of strong winds beneath the 90-metre high forests, plants rely on seed eating animals to disperse seeds. Elephants and rhinoceros scatter seeds over a large area due to their slow digestive rates.

Habitat loss and poaching has led to a 95% reduction in elephant numbers across Asia, while there are only 50 Java rhinoceroses (Rhinoceros sondaicus) and 200 Sumatra rhinoceroses (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) left in the wild.

Read more at University of Nottingham