Wild African elephants might offer ranchers their best chance to eradicate the “Sodom apple”—a toxic invasive plant that has overrun vast swaths of East African savanna and pastureland.
Should the reference to the smitten biblical city be unclear, the Sodom apple, or Solanum campylacanthum, is a wicked plant.
Not a true apple, the relative of the eggplant smothers native grasses with its thorny stalks, while its striking yellow fruit provides a deadly temptation to sheep and cattle.
A five-year study shows that elephants and impalas, among other wild animals, can not only safely gorge themselves on the plant, but can efficiently regulate its otherwise explosive growth. Without elephants ripping the plant from the ground, or impalas devouring dozens of its fruits at a time, the shrub easily conquers the landscape.