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We generally associate certain particular traits or characteristics with some animals, so it is difficult for us to imagine them without that peculiarity. Thus, for example, when we think of an elephant, its large size, its long troop and its striking fangs. ¿But it will be true that all elephants have tusks?
In this AnimalWised article, we will explain to you whether or not it is true that all elephants have tusks, incredible incisors for which, for a long time, elephants have been persecuted and mistreated by humans.You may also be interested in: Types of elephants and their characteristics Index
- Classification of elephants
- Characteristics of elephant tusks
- Are there elephants without tusks?
- Hunting and tusks of elephants
Classification of elephants
Elephants were previously classified in the order of Pachyderms, however, this term has been deprecated and currently its taxonomy is as follows:
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Proboscidea
- Family: Elephantidae
Over time, more than twenty species of elephants have become extinct, and currently there are two genres: Loxodonta (African elephants) and Elephas (Asian elephants). Although there are divergences regarding the classification criteria for the designation of species, one of the accepted ones is the following:
- Genus Loxodonta, with two species: the savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis).
- Genus Elephas, with a species, the Asian elephantElephas maximus), and three subspecies: Indian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus), Sri Lankan elephant (Elephas maximus maximus) and Sumatran elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus).
For more information, we recommend reading this other AnimalWised article on Types of elephants and their characteristics..
Characteristics of elephant tusks
The tusks of these mammals are incisive teeth that grow from its upper jaw and curve to the side of the tube, and are made of ivory, a material of high hardness and resistance, which is initially white, but with the passage of time it turns yellowish or light cream color. However, the African forest elephant can have a pink coloration on the tusks.
These particular formations can measure less than a meter or considerably exceed this dimension, reaching the two or more meters. In fact, there are individuals who have dental structures that almost reach the ground. Regarding the weight, it can also vary, depending on the size, but there are records of pieces that exceed the 100 kilos.
On the other hand, elephants can make use of a particular tusk more frequently, eventually causing one of the pieces to be slightly smaller than the other due to wear and tear..
¿What are the tusks of elephants for??
These striking formations they help them for various purposes, for example, they can move or lift objects, gather food, and remove bark from trees. In addition, they use them to defend or confront, in the case of males when they compete for a female.
further, with them they can dig in the earth to fetch water when it is the dry season. But these species are not the only ones favored by their tusks, since it has been shown that when they use them to get water, knock down trees or open paths within the vegetation, other animals benefit from these actions, as is the case of some species that establish their nests in trees felled by these large mammals.
If you want to know more curiosities of these animals, we encourage you to read this other article about Curiosities of the elephant.
Are there elephants without tusks?
Although the presence of tusks is a particular trait of these animals, not all of them present them, so they do, there are elephants that are born without tusks.
Among the elephants that do not have tusks, we find Asians, which generally lack these, especially females, since a certain percentage of males usually have them. When a female has fangs, they are much smaller than a male's. In India, elephants born without tusks are called Makhna.
For their part, African elephants commonly have tusks, both males and females, only a small percentage of this group (approximately 2%), present the absence of these incisors.
When an elephant's tusks are removed without causing serious injuries, it can survive without them, but it is a very painful act, remember that they are teeth and have nerve endings. Also, when an elephant has lost its tusks, these they do not grow back and the actions that it carried out, such as feeding and defending itself, are considerably diminished.
For more information, you can consult this other article on Differences between the African and Asian elephants.
Hunting and tusks of elephants
Throughout human history, various civilizations have used ivory as a highly coveted material, aspect that is still maintained and that has ended the lives of thousands of copies. Elephants are, in fact, one of the species that have suffered the most from human action to be stripped of this part of their body. Ivory obtained from tusks traditionally it was used in decorations of temples, buttons for clothes, piano keys, jewelry, combs, accessories for canes, chairs and a variety of other objects.
Actually, in Africa and Asia there is a great demand for ivory And, despite legal restrictions, its illicit trade continues, as it is still used to make objects used in various cults, ceremonies or religious acts. On the other hand, it is also used for the production of various types of ornaments, decorative figures, as well as the base of daggers.
But not only hunting for their tusks has led to the drastic decline in populations, but also wearing your skin to make amulets, as well as the alteration and fragmentation of ecosystems. On the other hand, their illegal trade to be used in circuses and the murder product of the superposition of their habitats with that of humans, has considerably affected the number of individuals in the various regions..
Conservation status of elephants
The two species of African elephants are found classified as vulnerable, Meanwhile he Asian elephant is listed in Danger of extinction.
All current species are under various figures of legal protection, which prohibit their hunting and commercialization, however, in some areas these laws are not applicable, so they suffer from the attacks described above. The existing elephants, regardless of the region of location, are animals that should be favored with the application of strict conservation measures. In addition, the sanctions would have to be more severe for those who act against them, because otherwise and irreversibly, the extinction of these species will irreversibly increase..