Negative influences on the establishment and persistence of large trees used by tree-nesting birds as nesting sites represent a potential threat to vultures and raptors. We monitored large trees and their surrounding vegetation and analysed whether trees with nesting sites are at risk due to elephant impact. Trees with nests did not differ in elephant impact from control trees without nests, and the survival rates of trees with nests and the actual nests within the trees showed that nests decreased at a faster rate than the trees themselves. Elephant damage did not affect the persistence of nests over the 5-year monitoring period. However, the presence of insects and fungus on large trees was negatively related to tree survival, thereby indicating that elephant impact could indirectly facilitate insect and fungus attack and shorten the lifespan of a tree.