Kyle Melnick reports In Kenya, the king of the jungle faces a new challenge — ants (‘Researchers said big-headed ants started an “ecological chain reaction” in a Kenya conservancy, impacting lions and other animals’):
Lions have long stood atop the food chain, but now a new enemy has forced the dominant carnivores in Kenya to change their hunting strategies and diets.
The threat? Ants that are smaller than a grain of rice.
The invasive insects that arrived in Kenya in the early 2000s, probably due to global shipping and international tourism, have caused an “ecological chain reaction,” according to researchers. Big-headed ants kill native acacia ants, which protect trees from elephants and other herbivores in Kenya — one of a few African nations with a sizable lion population — by swarming into the animals’ nostrils and biting when they try to eat the trees’ leaves, branches and bark.
As acacia ants have dwindled, elephants have been able to knock down and eat more whistling thorn trees. With fewer trees, lions have lost the cover they rely on to stealthily attack zebras, their primary prey.
These ants have become a pestilence, and the sooner humanity comes to the defense of our fellow mammals, the better.
It’s not as though humans don’t know how to handle ants: