The Goose and The Golden Egg
A male elephant’s tusks are bigger and heavier than those of a female of the same age, says Poole, who serves as scientific director of a nonprofit called ElephantVoices. “But once there’s been heavy poaching pressure on a population, then the poachers start to focus on the older females as well,” she explains. “Over time, with the older age population, you start to get this really higher proportion of tuskless females.”
This tuskless trend isn’t limited to Mozambique, either. Other countries with a history of substantial ivory poaching also see similar shifts among female survivors and their daughters. In South Africa, the effect has been particularly extreme—fully 98 percent of the 174 females in Addo Elephant National Park were reportedly tuskless in the early 2000s.