Poachers are endangering the existence of elephants. They murder them and mutilate their faces to obtain the ivory tusks and leave the elephant corpse to rot in the plains of Africa. Elephant evolution is fighting back, though.
The average tusk size of African elephants has halved since the mid-19th century. A similar effect has been spotted in the Asian elephant population in India.
Researchers say it is an example of Darwinism in action, caused by the mass slaughter of dominant male elephants (which tend to have bigger tusks). However, while evolution normally takes place over thousands or millions of years, these changes have occurred within 150 years.
The poaching and hunting of the largest male elephants, which also have the largest tusks, has changed the natural breeding behavior of these animals.
Their research has shown that the hunting of these large males for their ivory allows smaller males with shorter tusks to produce more calves. Over time the average tusk size decreases.