There is an evolution happening among our friends the African Elephants.
As we are all very aware, the poaching of elephant tusks has decimated herds across Africa but Elephant herself, with the help of Mother Earth, has made her own decision to safeguard her kind against the inhuman Humans by evolving into tusk-less pachyderms. And she has done so very quickly. We are watching evolution in the making, in real time, before our eyes. The time frame of elephants with tusks and elephants without tusks took a mere 50 years.
The entire evolution is not complete but the statistics are moving in the direction of the more desirable tusk-less genes growing within family herds that are under stress of poaching. (Families not under poaching threats are developing as usual, meaning with tusks). There is a real threat of a time in the near future when Elephant and her children no longer have tusks, thus protecting them from poachers. Male elephants are not going tusk-less, but are producing smaller tusks.
This may seem like a win but is it?
The tusks of Elephant serve multiple purposes. They are very handy in digging for water not only for them but for other African species. Following behind Elephant and family can virtually save the lives of numerous animals during times of drought which occurs for months at a time in parts of Africa. Tusks are used for moving objects, downing trees and digging for food, defense and determines the desirability of mating. Even if one were to throw out the problems of food and water (not small problems!), the situation could be dire for future generations if the best of the bulls have no way to complete the hierarchy of breeding rights.
Is the choice to remain tusk-less truly a benefit? Or is it a predetermined extinction for new generations? Only time will tell.
The questions presented bother me. These are the foundation of life, changing right before us, and sometimes we become to concern with other (and in my opinion) less important things. I am not the only one. Biologists have the same concerns for this evolution caused by man and not nature. What does the future hold for other species dependent on help from Elephant? What about Elephant herself? And us? Who is to say what happens when the balance of life is disrupted?
One thing is certain. If we could stop poaching none of these questions would have to be answered and Mother Earth and Elephant would not have to take such drastic steps to ensure their children live until tomorrow.