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 24, 2021
Earth & The Environment
New Tests Can Sense Previously Undetectable Toxins in Soil
JUL 24, 2021
New Tests Can Sense Previously Undetectable Toxins in Soil
Researchers from Duke University have developed four new tests capable of detecting toxic coal ash contamination in soil ...
AUG 09, 2021
Earth & The Environment
New Pterosaur Fossil discovered in Australia
AUG 09, 2021
New Pterosaur Fossil discovered in Australia
Pterosaur fossils have been discovered in all corners of the globe since their first discovery in Kansas in the 1700s. S ...
AUG 12, 2021
Plants & Animals
Why Sunflower Heads Face East
AUG 12, 2021
Why Sunflower Heads Face East
You may have noticed that sunflowers can move their 'heads' or capitula to track the sun as its position changes during ...
AUG 26, 2021
Plants & Animals
Flavonoid-rich Foods Help Regulate Blood Pressure
AUG 26, 2021
Flavonoid-rich Foods Help Regulate Blood Pressure
Flavonoid-rich foods may have a positive effect on blood pressure levels, though according to new research, the secret t ...
AUG 26, 2021
Health & Medicine
Hoover Dam is going dry: Water shortage declared for the first time ever in the USA
AUG 26, 2021
Hoover Dam is going dry: Water shortage declared for the first time ever in the USA
We have all heard of the famous “bathtub ring” around Lake Mead (AZ, MN) and many have seen photos and video ...
SEP 08, 2021
Plants & Animals
Eating Avocados May Change How the Body Stores Belly Fat
SEP 08, 2021
Eating Avocados May Change How the Body Stores Belly Fat
Though humans have eaten them for thousands of years, avocados have recently been hailed as a “superfood,” a ...
Loading Comments...