Is is true that go­ril­las help fight cli­mate change?

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Q&A - Nikki Tagg

Go­ril­las are the largest pri­mates, with a huge ap­petite for leaves, shoots, stems, roots and fruit. An adult con­sumes 18–20kg of food daily, mainly fo­liage, and will swallow many large seeds in­tact. As go­rilla fam­i­lies move through the for­est to for­age, they defe­cate, thereby de­posit­ing seeds far away from the par­ent trees. Cru­cially, go­ril­las like to build sleep­ing nests in ar­eas with an open canopy, and next morn­ing tend to poop in the vicin­ity be­fore head­ing off. This means that the dumped seeds are left sit­ting in piles of ma­nure, un­der an un­in­ter­rupted sky – ideal con­di­tions for ger­mi­na­tion. So go­ril­las not only dis­perse trees but also en­cour­age them to grow, thereby play­ing a key role in main­tain­ing West and Cen­tral Africa’s trop­i­cal forests. In turn, this con­trib­utes to global car­bon and water reg­u­la­tion, and helps to reg­u­late our cli­mate.

Fruit-chomp­ing go­ril­las are plant­ing trees with their poop.

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