The African elephants who survived the intense ivory hunting are evolving to keep their tusks from growing and protecting them from poaching.
Nearly 90% of the elephants in the Gorongosa National Park of Mozambique were slaughtered for ivory to finance weapons in the country's 16-year civil war.
But about a third of females – the generation born after the war ended 1992 – did not develop fangs.
Many of the herds do not have fangs or tusks much smaller than usual – with parents who transmit this feature that make children less attractive to poachers
The elephants of the Gorongosa National Park were targeted for ivory during the Mozambican civil war and about a third of the females, in the picture, have evolved in order not to grow fangs
Many of the herd, a female in the picture, do not have fangs or tusks much smaller than usual – with parents who transmit this feature that makes children less attractive to poachers
Normally, both elephants Africans both males and females are born with ivory tusks that can reach even 10 feet in length.
Dominique D & # 39; Emille Correia Gonçalves, a Ph.D. student from the University of Kent, is part of a team of scientists investigating the results.
The 26-year-old conservationist and conservation biologist said: "The poaching of ivory is aimed at large animals with fangs, so it removes the" big "tusk gene out of the population.
" The population of elephants today it comes from the majority of elephants that survived the war, where they were heavily poached for their fangs.
"The key explanation is that in the Gorongosa National Park, elephants without fangs were the ones who evaded poaching during the civil war and transmitted this feature to many of their daughters.
" These elephants without fangs are growing from the survivors of poaching so while we are not yet talking about evolution, we could talk about the removal of some genes
Many of the female elephants have also developed what has been described as a "culture of aggression", which could derive from the need to defend their young people against poachers.
Usually the African male and female elephants are born with ivory tusks that can grow up to 10 feet in length. Pictured is a female elephant in the Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique
Nearly 90% of the elephants in the Gorongosa National Park of Mozambique were massacred for ivory in the civil war of 16 years of the country  Experts believe that the strange behavior – which sees them having a particularly low tolerance towards vehicles and people, reacting with rage – could also be related to animals that have no fangs.
Dominique, who is also responsible for the Elephant Ecology project, added: "Our behavior the elephant show is intriguing – has been described by Poole and Granli as a" culture of aggression ".
" This is a big change, as the anedocti records of people who were in Gorongosa, before the war, the family units were solid and almost indifferent to the presence of people.
"Many of the lead matriarchs and females of family units were alive during the massacre and saw their families and friends hunted " They survived and the trauma is still present, which would explain this intolerance to humans "
Scientists are now monitoring elephants by linking GPS satellite collars to 10 females from different family units.
research has also shown that elephants have poor tolerance to vehicles and people, which could be related to their absence of fangs (file image)
Nearly 90% of the African elephants of the Gorongosa National Park of Mozambique were slaughtered for ivory to finance weapons in the civil war of the country
Dominique said: "It is difficult to say if in the past the elephants had fangs, like many of the fangless matriarchs we see today have survived.
"We are conducting genetic studies on our elephant population to understand if there is a behavioral syndrome that could be identified."
Evolutionary biologists from the University of California in Los Angeles are also studying blood to find out how genetics affect the lack of fangs and why it is seen primarily in women, reports the Telegraph.
Other countries have also seen a change in the number of elephant-growing tusks
In South Africa, 98 percent of the 174 women in Addo Elephant National Park did not grow tusks in the early 2000s.
also caused the collapse of the size of the tusk in some strongly hunted areas, such as southern Kenya.
Scientists say elephants with this disability could alter the way they behave.
Poaching also caused fangs to collapse in other heavily hunted areas, such as southern Kenya (photo file)
Tusks are used to dig water or get tree bark to food, so mammals can travel farther to find survival.
But researchers say changes in the way elephants live could have greater implications for the ecosystems that surround them.
Ryan Long, behavioral ecologist at the University of Idaho, told National Geographic: "Each of these behavioral changes could lead to changes in elephant distribution across the landscape, and it is those large changes. scale that are more likely to have consequences for the rest of the ecosystem. "
The number of elephants without fangs has indicated the lasting effect humans have had on animals.