October 05, 2007

Evolution Saving Elephants From Poachers

Evolution is saving elephants in Africa by producing herds with tiny tusks or none at all, which provides no profit for poachers and thus ensures the survival of the species. Natural selection at work, Right before our eyes.

The phenomenon has been noticed in all parts of Africa where hunting has been going on longest, with both trophy hunters and poachers always shooting the elephants with the biggest tusks.

A survey in the Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda in the 1930s showed that only 1 percent of adult elephants were without tusks. Then it was regarded as a rare mutation.

This year Eve Abe, of the Ugandan wildlife authority, found that 30 percent of adult elephants in the same area were without tusks. Richard Barnwell, World Wide Fund for Nature conservation officer for Africa, said the trend towards elephants having smaller tusks or none had been noticed all over the Savannah area of West Africa, where elephants had been hunted longest.

All the elephants with genes that produce big tusks have been taken out of the population. Those that remain either have small tusks or none at all.

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