After winter’s dryness and sometimes well before the summer rains start, the mopane trees begin to pop their ‘elephant ear’ leaves. With not yet much green anywhere (except the acacia’s that are also early with their small green leaves), elephants love to taste the protein-rich, soft first leaves of the mopane trees. If it were to the elephants, they would leave our mopane trees empty of leaves, but did you know that nature found a trick to avoid this? Mopane trees respond to elephants browsing by releasing tannins from their roots to make the leaves unpalatable. They also release pheromones to alert other trees nearby to the incoming elephant. But elephants have also got wise to this. With the pheromones moving downwind, the elephants come in from downwind to browse upwind, so the communication between the trees doesn’t work.
So, what do you think what happens in the video? Did the elephant outsmart the mopane tree?

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