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Elephants are the largest living land animals, with adults sometimesweighing six tons or more. Of the two species, the African elephant islarger and more plentiful than the Asian elephant. But both arethreatened by shrinking living space and poaching for the ivory trade. Modern elephants are the last survivors of the old and varied "trunked"family of mammals that once ranged the entire planet. These heirs ofsuch mighty creatures as the extinct mastodon and mammoth and occupy aunique place in their habitat in Africa and Asia. As huge and powerfulconsumers, elephants are considered to be a keystone species in theirenvironment, affecting biodiversity in the regions they inhabit. Theyopen up areas of forest where light-dependent plants can take hold, forexample, creating habitat for grazing animals. Such elephant roadwaysalso act as fire breaks or drainage conduits and are littered withpartially digested, ready-to-germinate seeds conveniently fertilized inelephant dung. The wells elephants dig in search of water are used byvirtually all other wildlife in a given region, particularly duringperiods of drought. On the other hand, elephant activity can also beseen as destructive, particularly under the pressures of humanlandscape transformation that force the animals into smaller areas. Ashabitat shrinks, their voracious appetite can bring them morefrequently into conflict with people.
WWF is working in Asia and Africa to protect this magnificent and vital animal and to preserve its shrinking habitat.

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Keywords:africa, animals, asia, india, large animals, sumatra, taronga zoo

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