Elephants Are Evolving, Being Born Without Tusks

By: Tara Thompson

Elephants are rapidly evolving without tusks to escape ivory poachers,  study finds - ABC News

After years of poaching evolution has finally caught up with elephants. During the civil war in Mozambique about 90% of their population was wiped out. Killed for their ivory tusks to get weapons and food to feed soldiers.  And though a few were born tuskless during this time, the rates have exponentially grown. Normally tusklessness would only accrue in about 2 to 4 percent of females but recent numbers have shown now a third of female population are now born tuskless. 

African Elephants have started being born without tusks, leaving them nothing to defend themselves with. Though the most interesting part of this is that this gene only affects female elephants, if it goes to a male it’s more likely they won’t survive.  

Though Mozambique isn’t the only place this trend is breaking out. In South Africa, 98% of the 174 females in Addo Elephant National Park were reportedly tuskless in the early 2000s.

Joyce Poole, an elephant behavior expert and National Geographic Explorer has new and unpublished  research she’s compiled that shows of the 200 known adult females, 51% of those that survived the war are tuskless. 32% of the female elephants born since the war are tuskless.

This has been a long time in the making, this has been going on for years, so why are we talking about it now? It most likely has to do with more recent research finally connecting the dots to ivory poaching. This data from National Geographic gives a bigger picture:

Daydream believer] Tuskless elephants and pressures to evolution

This issue will only get worse in a matter of years, they will have to learn and adapt to being tusk less and learn how to defend themselves without them. It’s truly insane how fast this has evolved since the Mozambique civil war, starting around 1977 and ending in 1992. This is 15 years of consistent ivory poaching, leaving many elephants tusk less 44 years later.

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