Elephants Are Evolving To Lose Their Tusks

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Elephants are evolving to lose their tusks, it has been revealed.

New figures have suggested around a third of younger females, the generation born after Mozambique’s civil war, are tuskless.

Usually, this would only occur in around 2 to 4 percent of female African elephants.

The oldest elephants from the era of 15-year civil war are marked by their tusklessness appearances.

Elephant behaviour expert and National Geographic Explorer Joyce Poole said:

But once there’s been heavy poaching pressure on a population, then the poachers start to focus on the older females as well. Over time, with the older age population, you start to get this really higher proportion of tuskless females.

Behavioural ecologist at the University of Idaho and a National Geographic Explorer Ryan Long added:

The prevalence of tusklessness in Addo is truly remarkable and underscores the fact that high levels of poaching pressure can do more than just remove individuals from a population. Consequences of such dramatic changes in elephant populations are only just beginning to be explored.

Poole adds that elephants missing their tusks are surviving and appear healthy.

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The Mozambican Civil War was a 15-year conflict that occurred between May 30, 1977 and October 4, 1992 in the southern African country of Mozambique. Although ostensibly an internal civil war, the conflict was in fact a proxy war between the Soviet Union which backed the Mozambican government and the United States which supported the insurgents.

The war occurred two years after Mozambique officially gained its independence from Portugal.

In 1990, Mozambique adopted a new constitution that included multiparty elections. In 1992, a peace accord was signed in Rome, Italy which allowed UN peacekeepers to enter the country. Their presence effectively ended the war.

In 1994, the first free elections were held in the country. Despite FRELIMO winning the majority, a portion of the population voted for RENAMO candidates. The political rivalry continues but the military conflict is over.

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