Because Of Poachers, African Elephants Are Evolving To Not Grow Tusks

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Nearly one-third of female elephants in Mozambique have no tusks, up from just 2 to 4 percent previously.

African elephants appear to be adapting to being hunted by poachers: the number born without ivory tusks is increasing, according to researchers.

Via Business Insider:

> Elephants are hunted and slaughtered for their ivory, with poachers often shooting at elephants from helicopters or small planes, allowing the elephants very little chance of defending themselves or escaping.


> The elephants are targeted for their tusks, which are said by some to have "restorative" or healing powers.


> Despite having imposed a ban in late 2017, China is one of the nations where ivory is still more sought-after — and sometimes worth more — than gold. Ground and ingested, it's touted not only as being a cure for numerous diseases, but also as a way of increasing virility, strength, and fertility.

But nature is fighting back:

> As a recent piece published in National Geographic outlined, natural selection appears to be favoring elephants born without tusks.



> Previously, between 2% and 4% of all the female elephants in Mozambique had no tusks but that figure has now soared to almost a third of the female elephant population.


> Elephant behavior expert and National Geographic Explorer, Joyce Poole, explained that poaching has a clear influence on elephants — not only in terms of their population size but also in terms of evolution.

> Hunting has given elephants that didn't grow tusks a biological advantage in Gorongosa, as Poole explained, because poachers focus on elephants with tusks and spare those without.

More here.