Elephant in Weed Filled Pool

An elephant (Loxodonta africana) feeds on the roots of an aquatic weed, water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) at one of the few surviving water pans at Mana Pools National Park. The general shortage of food in the area, shortly before the rains, makes water hyacinth a useful plant for the duration. Hyacinth is indigenous to South America, originating from the upper Amazon basin. It is one of the worst aquatic weeds to infest southern African water ways, out –competing indigenous aquatic plant species and causing oxygen starvation to fish and other aquatic creatures. Attempts at cleaning up this pest plant using biological controls, in the form of weevils, have partly eradicated the scourge, but its presence is still felt in most dams and still waters.
(Canon 7D; f/11; 1/60sec; ISO-200; 100mm)

Picture ©2011 Andrew Field – Simply Wild Photography


2 thoughts on “Elephant in Weed Filled Pool

  1. This weed is partly responsible for the droughts that have extended the dry season. Control of it requires repeated use of massed manpower AND machinery. That in turn requires some form of profit. The plant has many potential uses. The fiber from the stems can be made into fabric for furniture. It is being done in Uganda and the Philippines. It can be briquetted into cooking fuel, burned in the new low-pollution stoves that produce charcoal as a byproduct, and the charcoal used as biochar soil conditioner or as further fuel. See it done in Bungoma Kenya. It can be digested into biogas fuel. People in Bangladesh are making ornamental papers from it. A Filipino company, Jacinto Y Lirio , makes women’s handbags from it. There’s even a group making sanitary napkins from it. The prospects are enormous, and the weed is relentlessly renewable.

    1. Thanks for your comment Stephen… I should note this weed has very little nutritional value to those animals which eat it. Turning hyacinth into a useful material from pools in national wildlife parks would seem too huge a problem for the fragile ecosystems where the weed festers. I understand chemical solutions for the weed’s elimination have been tried too, in Zimbabwe, with positive results, but nobody knows what damage was done to that same fragile ecosystem as a result.

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