Elephants Are Evolving To Be 'Tuskless' Because Of Poachers Hunting Them for Ivory

Evolution is a wonderful thing that animals have been doing for millennia, they adapt to survive.

Some have evolved to see better at night to catch prey, some have developed the ability to camouflage themselves, but these elephants are on the process of changing their ability to grow tusks to save themselves from being hunted.

Elephants Are Evolving To Be 'Tuskless' Because Of Poachers Credit: ElephantVoices
Elephants Are Evolving To Be 'Tuskless' Because Of Poachers Credit: ElephantVoices

These magnificent creatures are evolving to be born without tusks in order to avoid being slaughtered for the ivory trade.

In fact, almost a third of female elephants Africa's Mozambique Gorongosa National Park were born without tusks and grew into adulthood without them.

Wildlife experts, conservationists and biologists have all been astonished by the growth in the number from the average two to four per cent who would be born without tusks in the past. But they believe this could all be in a bid to survive the ruthless poachers.

Currently, Africa's elephant population has decreased by an estimated 110,000, down to 415,000, since 2006, but if they are not being poached for their tusks it could see this decline slowed down.

Elephants Are Evolving To Be 'Tuskless' Because Of Poachers Credit: ElephantVoices
Elephants Are Evolving To Be 'Tuskless' Because Of Poachers Credit: ElephantVoices

Dr Joyce Poole is the head of the animal charity, Elephant Voices, and she's been following the developments of the creatures for over 30 years - in that time she has noted a direct correlation between the number of elephants being poached rising and the rising number of female elephants being born without tusks, she told The Times.

Dr Poole explained although the poaching is under much more control than it was in the last 30 years, and the population is beginning to recover, almost half the females over 35 in Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique have no tusks.

This stems from the slaughter of the animals that occurred between the 15 years of civil war between 1977 and 1992.

She explained: "Females who are tuskless are more likely to produce tuskless offspring."

Which means the female elephants are passing this 'tuskless' gene down to their daughters and now more than 30 per cent of female elephant calf's born since the end of that time also are born without tusks.

Although elephant tusks are effectively overgrown teeth, the creatures do use them in day-to-day life such as for digging for water or vital minerals in the ground, debarking trees to secure fibrous food, and helping males compete for female's attention during mating season.

However, even with this the tuskless elephants are reported to be thriving, surviving and appear perfectly healthy, according to Dr Poole.

Even with the news the elephants are healthy the knowledge elephants are evolving to be born tuskless just highlights the blights of poaching on the species.

Extinct: A race against time to save our endangered species. Read more from our campaign here

Featured Image Credit: ElephantVoices

Rachael Grealish

Rachael is journalist from West Cumbria, recently moved to Manchester for an exciting opportunity at LADbible. She used to work as an editor of a small newspaper, in Cumbria. Outside of work Rachael loves plenty of coffee, running and reading.

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