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Ferocious hunting for ivory causes females to lose their teeth

Experts say that the hunting of African ivory for ivory is now causing genetic changes in them, after which females are now being produced without their teeth. Photo: NewScientist

New York: Research in Mozambique has revealed that the news is enough to upset animal experts. The females of African elephants are now being produced without teeth under the pressure of predators on their beautiful teeth, of which there is ample evidence, including observations of genetic mutations and evolution.

Explaining the reason, experts say that due to the 15-year civil war, elephant tusks were ruthlessly hunted on both sides. Sensitive animals like elephants felt this pressure and soon they underwent such changes that the teeth of female elephants began to disappear.

In 1977, a severe civil war broke out in the region, which lasted until 1992. Factions on both sides began killing dumb animals for ivory-like treasures during the war. The elephants in Gorongosa National Park were the target.

Evidence of this was first seen in photographs and videos seen by Princeton University’s Shane Campbell Staten and his colleagues, who reported that 19 to 15 percent of female elephants were now born without teeth. Statistical analysis shows that this change is not possible without genetic selection pressure. But there are also indications that the number of toothless elephants has decreased since the end of the war, while the rate was higher during the war. It was also found that the number of toothless females tripled between 1972 and 2000.

The hunting of African ivory for precious ivory continues elsewhere. In Sri Lanka, for example, only 5% of males are present with their teeth. Surprisingly, all African male elephants retained their teeth despite severe hunting, due to genetic factors.

Experts are still doing genetic research on why the teeth of females are disappearing. But preliminary research suggests that this is probably due to a gene called AMALX, which is found in the X chromosome. This gene plays an important role in the formation of teeth.

Experts believe that the mutation of this gene also affects other important genes. Females have two copies of the X chromosome and if one of them does not change, the gene in it continues to function properly. But a man or a man has only one copy of it and if it goes bad, it can cause many diseases and even deadly diseases.

Professor Shane says that the same changes can occur in humans themselves. Some women’s upper teeth may be missing, which is equivalent to an ivory tusk.

Ivory is not just for show, it is very useful for ivory. First, they cut down trees, collect sugarcane, dig holes in the ground for water, and defend themselves from the enemy. Although mute ivory is smuggled, the rest of their lives are difficult and even dangerous.

There are also other animals that benefit from the ivory’s long tusks. If the elephant digs a pit to extract water, then all the animals use this water. That is why ivory is its most valuable asset.

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