DEC 09, 2016 10:07 AM PST

Has Poaching Led to Elephants Being Born Without Tusks?

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Scientists studying the natural behavior and lifestyle of wild African elephants are finding something peculiar about newly-born elephants… they’re either being born without any tusks, or are being born with tusks so small they aren’t worth the hunt.
 
Poaching, the practice of killing the animals to yank their valuable ivory tusks, has been a real problem for elephants in the region for decades, and now scientists believe that artificial selection could be taking its place in the species, willing them to be born without any tusks at all to help ensure their survival.
 

Over the course of several decades, tuskless elephants are becoming the norm, thanks to poaching.

 
This comes from the fact that being born without any tusks is an inheritable trait, and those with either no tusks or small tusks make up the largest group of the gene pool, which means they’re mating together more so than elephants with great-sized tusks.
 
There are pros and cons to elephants that are born without large tusks; the benefits include not having a target on their back and this improves their odds of beating human-driven extinction. But because elephants have long relied on their tusks for self-defense among other reasons, being born without them puts their way of life at risk.
 
On the other hand, because more and more exist today without any, there could soon be a day where having small or even no tusks at all becomes the dominant trait among elephants. This could eventually lead to a day where virtually all of the creatures are born without them.
 


Ivory, which is valuable in many parts of the world, continues to be traded illegally worldwide despite international bans on trading. Regardless of attempts to put an end to ivory trading, and even the destruction of millions of dollars worth of confiscated ivory stockpiles, poachers continue to kill the creatures for their tusks.
 
Perhaps if this continues, poachers will have to stop their ways in the way nature commands it. On the other hand, elephants born without tusks lose their ability to defend themselves effectively, so will it have a negative impact on the species in addition to a positive one? Only time will tell…
 
Source: Nautilus

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUL 31, 2020
Plants & Animals
This Fungus Spreads by Manipulating Male Cicadas into Mimicking Females
JUL 31, 2020
This Fungus Spreads by Manipulating Male Cicadas into Mimicking Females
Researchers from West Virginia University (WVU) recently discovered how a parasitic fungus uses male cicadas to spread i ...
AUG 05, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Bullock's & Baltimore Orioles May Mix, But They Won't Merge
AUG 05, 2020
Bullock's & Baltimore Orioles May Mix, But They Won't Merge
Researchers have data that can finally settle a long controversy in the birding world.
AUG 13, 2020
Plants & Animals
Study Confirms Nutrient Transport in Pregnant Male Seahorses
AUG 13, 2020
Study Confirms Nutrient Transport in Pregnant Male Seahorses
Seahorses are some of the most extraordinary fish in the ocean, and one of their most noteworthy features is male pregna ...
SEP 29, 2020
Earth & The Environment
Using native wild species to improve crop breeding and production
SEP 29, 2020
Using native wild species to improve crop breeding and production
New research from the University of Portsmouth and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, highlights the concern that global farmin ...
OCT 26, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
When Exposed to Estrogen, Fish Generate Fewer Males
OCT 26, 2020
When Exposed to Estrogen, Fish Generate Fewer Males
Life on earth relies on clean water, something that is becoming more scarce. Researchers have found that if water is con ...
NOV 21, 2020
Earth & The Environment
The first ever global bee diversity map
NOV 21, 2020
The first ever global bee diversity map
A study reported in the journal Current Biology showcases the first global map of bee diversity. Designed by a coll ...
Loading Comments...