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Discovery of the first male elephant without tusks in Kenya –

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FAO researchers Save elephants* They have discovered in Kenya what is believed to exist The first publicly documented case of a male African elephant being born without tusks. “This discovery challenges genetic evidence that suggests only females are born without tusks.” Explains the organizationannouncing the publication Scientific study In the magazine pachyderm. The tuskless specimen, now 13 years old, was first spotted in 2011, when she was young, in the Samburu National Park in northern Kenya. Although researchers continue to monitor its progress, And no semblance of fangs grew at all. This is a characteristic that usually appears after the age of two years.

The Italian was also part of the research team that led to the discovery Giacomo Damando, 32 years old, in Africa for more than 10 years, after obtaining a degree and doctorate in animal ecology: “This observation contradicts recent genetic studies, which shed light on the genetic mechanism that determines the lack of tusks in African elephants, indicating the impossibility of males without tusks (unlike females, which are often born without tusks, and inherit this characteristic from their tusks).” mothers),” says Al Corriere della Sera. He adds: In this case, “the example is She was born to a mother without fangsIt is therefore possible that the absence of tusks is also a hereditary trait in males… This should make us revise generally accepted hypotheses. It has been shown that female elephants do not have tusks An advantage in situations of high pressure from poaching for ivoryBecause they avoid killing. Our finding seems to suggest that this potential advantage could theoretically extend to males as well, although we don't know why it's so rare. Clearly, “it is important to ask whether allowing the complete disappearance of African tusked elephants would constitute a conservation success for the species, and I personally do not think so.”

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The result of the study was Group effort. Credit for discovering the specimen goes to the Kenyan elephant expert and director of field operations at Save the elephants, David Dabalin, which followed the tuskless male and his family from 2011 (shortly after birth) to the present. œTogether with the research group of Save the elephantsWhich includes Kenyan and international researchers, we were able to document the evolution of this animal. At this moment, our main focus is “Working with genetics experts to understand the potential mechanisms behind the absence of tusks in the elephant we have described.”Damando, research coordinator at… Save the elephantsHe is responsible for managing the association's long-term scientific projects, such as studying elephant movements using GPS collars, and supervising researchers and students in this field.

Even today, “we don’t know for sure whether the absence of tusks is a handicap for female elephants. Given that many females, including some individual ‘mammies’ that we know of in Kenya, have no problem surviving and reproducing.” Without tusks, I would say the disadvantages for females are minimal. On the contrary, “the tusks are there.” An important weapon in battles between males to reach females during estrus. They can also act as A sign of dominance or good health. “It is therefore possible that the absence of tusks represents a major disadvantage in the population of male African elephants, explaining the rarity of tuskerless individuals (males without tusks will have a lower chance of surviving and reproducing successfully once they become adults).” , recalling how male Asian elephants are regularly born without tusks, and fairly recent studies suggest that the presence or absence of tusks is not a problem in interactions between males. “We will follow our African tuskless specimen through its life, and perhaps we will be able to give a more complete answer to this question,” he concludes, not without answering a personal curiosity: “I reside in Kenya I live in the Samburu National Reserve, in the north of the country…a “difficult” place sometimes, but it's… Intense beauty that I wouldn't trade for anything else in the worldL” (Here we previously talked about the phenomenon that was studied in female samples, in the article “Elephants have no tusks, so poaching modified their DNA.”.

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*Save the elephantsThe organization, founded by British zoologist Ian Douglas Hamilton in 1993, works to secure a future for African elephants in the wild.

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