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    Over at BBC Future, there is a short video taking a look at the web of relationships that hold the planet together in ways we're just beginning to understand. It is a web we sever at our peril.

     The megafauna of the Western Hemisphere - giant ground sloths like the megatherium, and other large herbivores have been extinct for a long time. Only now are we starting to see the missing pieces in the web, by looking at one that is still functioning.

     The African Congo rainforest is home to elephants, more specifically the African Forest Elephant. Until recently considered a subspecies, it is now apparent it should be considered a species apart from its larger bush cousin.

     It also happens that it plays a vital role in maintaining the forest that is its home. Rain forests are climate shapers; they collect, hold, and release water in amounts that have effects far beyond their borders. They fix carbon and are home to many species, including plants. The roughly 4 minute film is a revealing look at how one species - the forest elephant - plays a role that transcends their own particular lives.

The tropical rainforests of Africa and Asia play a crucial role in keeping our planet healthy. They moderate our climate, absorb the carbon we produce, and act as a major source of atmospheric moisture – which can fall as rain many miles away.

One of the biggest tropical forests in the world is in Congo. Its huge size and incredible biodiversity is partly thanks to an unlikely ally – the elephant.

       As it happens, the BBC video is not set up to allow embedding, so you'll have to follow the link (and see a short ad) to view it. But I think you'll find it worth a look.

Originally posted to xaxnar on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 06:21 PM PST.

Also republished by Science Matters.

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