|| Who's for
Dinner in Etosha?
At the bottom level of the Etoshan food chain are grasses
and trees. These provide sustenance for the lowest-level consumers, which include insects
and plant-eating animals, or herbivores. There are a
wealth of herbivores in Etosha, ranging in size from small ground squirrels to massive
elephants. Where these animals fit in relation to the rest of the food chain varies.
For the sake of explanation, take a zebra as an example. A zebra, also a consumer, eats
grasses. Much of what a zebra eats returns to the soil in the form of feces, where
digested food helps fertilize the ground and cause new grass to grow. Eventually, however,
that zebra may be attacked by a hungry cheetah. The cheetah kills the zebra, and eats what
it can of the dead animal. What remains of the
||carcass may then feed jackals or vultures,
eaters of dead flesh, or carrion. The bones of the
zebra are then broken down by bacteria, and in turn replenish the soil, allowing new
plants to grow. These patterns repeat themselves all
across Etosha. Insects and small fish feed on plants; these are then eaten by African
bullfrogs. Birds eat plants and are in turn consumed by African wildcats. Springbok and
zebras dine on plants, and are then fed upon by lions and cheetahs. Only the largest plant
eating consumers, such as giraffes and elephants, avoid becoming prey for predators,
though young animals of both species are sometimes victims of large cats. However, when
adult elephants and giraffes die, they become food for carrion eaters.