Although conservation groups have been trying to save the African elephants, could it be that now elephants are trying to save themselves? It seems that Darwin’s “Theory of Evolution” is being witnessed by humanity in real-time as an amazing biological transformation is taking place among elephants. Reports from researchers at Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park indicate an alarming increase of elephants being born without tusks.
This Is No Accident
In 1930, out of all of the young bulls and cows born to mature elephants, only 1% arrived in the world without tusks. Here we are, less than a century later, and the number of tuskless elephant calves has risen exponentially. About 15% of female calves are born in the wild without tusks and about 9% of males arrive in the same condition. Evolution for any species is an extremely slow and gradual process that generally takes thousands of years. Scientists have never expected to see genetic mutation on this scale to occur so rapidly. It certainly can be no accident. Elephants have grown wise to the reason that they are slaughtered. They are responding biologically to protect their own future. This news is simply incredible.
Not An Isolated Incident
The elephants of Uganda are not the only ones exhibiting this amazing response to the threat to their survival. Elephants everywhere are giving birth to tuskless calves. North Luangwa National Park in Zambia reported an unusually high number of calves born without tusks. Kenya is not only reporting tuskless births but that, for elephants who retain their tusks, they simply do not grow to the same scale. Elephants are now either tuskless or sporting smaller than normal tusks as a means to survive the threat of ivory profiteer poachers. Researchers have compared these results with calves born to elephants living in relatively stress-free conditions. Elephants living without the threat of slaughter for their ivory generally experience a 2% rate of calves born without tusks. Threatened, wild elephants are sacrificing their tusks in order to survive. Here is video on the evolution of elephants:
What Tuskless Really Means
This may sound like wonderful news. Tuskless elephants would surely be elephants left alone in the wild to enjoy their natural lives, right? Actually, this may not the great news it would seem. There is actually a very high price to be paid by elephants who lose their tusks voluntarily as a survival mechanism. In essence, they become a crippled creature. Elephants have tusks for a reason. They are not just aesthetic. Elephants are not graced with tusks so trophy hunters have a prize. Tusks are needed to dig for water and food. They are used to root about trees and self-defense against predators. Tusks play an important role in attracting a mate. It is easy to say that a crippled elephant is still better than a dead elephant, but I don’t think an elephant would agree with you. At about the 1 minute mark in the next video, you see an elephant use its tusks to dig in the mud in order to reach water:
Saving Tusks & Elephants
How can a person help African elephants survive and thrive in a world where they are free to live as elephants should, un-threatened and with their tusks? There are numerous conservation initiatives designed for protection of the species. However, a novel approach to conserving the African elephant in the wild is to support a local artist. Historically, artists have been able to fulfill their potential through the generous patronage of others. King George III supported a small group of artists who established the Royal Academy in 1768. France’s Marie Antoinette may have very well have been the catalyst for the French Revolution with her patronage of the arts, as well as political activist groups. Many artists use their craft to draw attention to specific causes. By supporting a local artist who devotes their talent to the plight of Africa’s elephants, patrons can follow a great historical tradition as they endeavor to do their part to save these awe-inspiring and majestic creatures. Hang a painting and save an elephant! How awesome is that!