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 Poaching making China elephants evolve tuskless
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Posted - 07/16/2005 :  20:50:03  Show Profile  Visit pleco's Homepage Send pleco a Private Message

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese elephants are evolving into an increasingly tuskless breed because poaching is changing the gene pool, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

Five to 10 percent of Asian elephants in China now had a gene that prevented the development of tusks, up from the usual 2 to 5 percent, the China Daily said, quoting research from Beijing Normal University.

"The larger tusks the male elephant has, the more likely it will be shot by poachers," said researcher Zhang Li, an associate professor of zoology. "Therefore, the ones without tusks survive, preserving the tuskless gene in the species."

Since only male elephants have tusks, there were now four female elephants for each male in China, up from the ideal ratio of two, the paper said.

Similar changes in elephant tusk development and sex ratios have been reported in Africa and India.


by Filthy
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Posted - 07/17/2005 :  03:34:23   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
I didn't know that female Asian Elephants had no tusks (Africans do), so I tracked it a bit farther
Threats To Survival: The loss of habitat is the primary threat to Asian elephants. Approximately 20% of the world's population lives in or near the range of Asian elephants. The homes of these elephants are being cleared for many reasons including warfare, agricultural development, human settlement, and logging. Asian elephants are less prone to poaching (killing elephants for ivory tusks) because few males (and no females) grow tusks. In China, the penalty for poaching is the death sentence.
Conflicts between Asian elephants and humans often occur because of habitat destruction. Sometimes there is not enough food in small forests to sustain elephants, so they look for the nearest source which is usually the field of a local farmer. Dr. Sukumar (profiled in The Wild Times Winter 1996 issue) is studying this human-elephant conflict and looking for ways to ease the tension.

Very interesting indeed. Thanks.

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