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African elephants are evolving to lose tusks for their survival

  • Published at 10:21 pm January 14th, 2019
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Tuskless elephants are becoming more and more common in Africa | Pexels

Elephants missing their tusks are surviving and appear healthy, according to scientists

Elephant tusks remain in demand as elephant populations are dwindling due to incessant poaching. In an almost Darwinian response, African elephants have begun giving birth to calves without tusks.

According to the National Geographic, most elephants that survived a scourge-like civil war in Mozambique are tuskless. 

In the late 70s, there were at least 4,000 elephants in Mozambique. Now, only 200 have been accounted for. The decimation is solely due to the poaching for ivory to fund the war chests. And 51% of elephants who survived the war are tuskless, and 32% of females born after the war are too.

In South Africa, the effect has been particularly extreme — with 98% of the 174 females in Addo Elephant National Park were reportedly tuskless in the early 2000s.


Elephants missing their tusks are surviving and appear healthy, according to scientists. Tusks are essentially overgrown teeth used to dig for water or minerals in the ground, scraping bark off trees to obtain fibre-rich food, and compete for partners.