The African bush has so much to offer, from huge elephants to tiny dung-beetles. I love that everything in nature works in harmony. Out in the bush there is an ecosystem where everything is inter-dependent on everything else. Consequently there is no wasted time, energy or even dung as everything is connected.
When dung beetles do carry or roll the dung away, they do so primarily to feed their young
Dung beetles are one of the few groups of insects that exhibit parental care for their young.
Many dung beetles specialize on the dung of particular animals, or types of animals, and simply will not touch the poo of other critters.
When it comes to poop, the fresher the better (at least from the dung beetle’s perspective).
One of the interesting facts we learnt was that an elephant eats up to 300 kg per day, which means each elephant generates about 100kg of manure every day!!! The elephant’s waste is a source of sustenance for the little Dung Beetles. They collect up the elephant dung into a ball and then roll it to a destination where they bury it. They then climb into the ball of dung with their mate and it is here where they reproduce. The dung beetle larva are then born inside this ball of dung.
But it’s not easy to roll a ball of poop in a straight line, especially when you’re pushing your ball from behind using your hind legs.
With so many dung beetles vying for the same pile of poop, a beetle needs to make a quick getaway once he’s rolled his dung ball.
This is such a classic example of how all the species within the bush are inter-dependent on each other for their survival. The dung-beetle depends on the elephants, the grasslands depend on the dung-beetle for sustenance during winter and so on.
Male dung beetles need exceptional strength, not just for pushing dung balls but also for fending off male competitors.
Even a small ball of fresh dung can be hefty to push, weighing 50 times the weight of the determined dung beetle.
I just love the harmony of nature.
Shindzela Tented Camp, Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, Hoedspruit, 1380, South Africa