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Ivory Poaching Driving Evolutionary Change in Elephants

Provided By - Video Elephant on October 25, 2021
Ivory Poaching Driving, Evolutionary Change, in Elephants. Researchers say that years of civil war and poaching in Mozambique have led to elephants that will never develop tusks. NBC reports that during the civil war, which lasted from 1977 to 1992, elephants were slaughtered for ivory to finance the war. In some regions, like Gorongosa National Park, nearly 90 percent of the elephant population was killed. Evolutionary biologist Shane Campbell-Staton and his team have found that the survivors seem to be increasingly born without the ability to grow tusks. According to NBC, the genetic trait was once considered rare in African savannah elephants. On October 21, the team published their findings in the journal 'Science.'. Perhaps more perplexing than the prevalence of tusklessness, two-thirds of all offspring are born female. Campbell-Staton, based at Princeton University, says that the years of unrest , “changed the trajectory of evolution in that population.”. Researchers in Mozambique reached their findings after observing the national park’s 800 elephants for several years. Samuel Wasser, a conservation biologist at the University of Washington, said, "when we think about natural selection, we think about it happening over hundreds, or thousands, of years. The fact that this dramatic selection for tusklessness happened over 15 years is one of the most astonishing findings, Samuel Wasser, Conservation Biologist at the University of Washington, via NBC

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