wondered by Joana Galhardo Tags

This one is an awesome example of Darwin's Evolutionary Theory.

You see, when the international ban on the trade of ivory took effect in 1989, there were about a million elephants in Africa and about 7.5% of those were getting poached to death every year. Today, less than half of them are left, and we're still losing about 8% of elephants to ivory poachers. Pretty much everything we've done to protect our wild pachyderm friends has failed.

So elephants have decided to take matters into their own hands...or trunks or weirdly rounded three-toed feet or whatever. To make themselves less appealing to their greatest enemies (poachers), elephants all over the world have begun selecting against having tusks at all! For example, it used to be that only 2 to 5 percent of Asian male elephants were born without tusks, and by 2005, it was estimated that the tuskless population had risen to between 5 to 10 percent. And it's not just happening in Asia, either. One African national park estimated their number of elephants born without tusks was as high as 38%. It's natural selection in action! Either lady elephants are deliberately choosing tuskless mates, or the only boy elephants surviving into breeding time are the ones born without tusks. Either way, that tusklessness is getting passed on.

This is so incredible because it's not like tusks are the elephant version of wisdom teeth. They're weapons and tools, and they are needed to dig for water and roots and to battle for the love of a lady! Which means nature decided poachers are a greater threat to the elephant's existence than its diminished ability to forage or to score!

Wonder about that!