Many observers realized that it was necessary to look beyond the elephant to explain the decline of particular trees or vegetation change at a landscape level. Vegetation change, even over short timescales of a decade or two, could be influenced by climate, soils, fire, insect pests, herbivorous mammals, or humans. The elephant was only one agent, albeit the most important, in a complex interplay of natural forces and human interventions. Several hypotheses emerged to explain the observed changes in the vegetation.
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