Recent theories suggest that herbivores forage across many scales and that foraging decisions are driven by the distribution of nitrogen. However, experimental tests of these predictions across large landscapes are rare and difficult. Pretorius et al. (2011) present an elegant experimental design to test how patch size, local nutrient density and total nutrient load are detected by foraging African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in the Colophospermum mopane shrub veld in South Africa. This experiment should serve as a model for investigations of how herbivores detect and respond to high nutrient patches of different size; it also raises questions for further research, such as the fate of high nutrient patches as elephants disperse nutrients from them in urine, faecal material and carcasses deposited elsewhere in the landscape.