The last super-tusker?
Wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas recalls he was so excited as to be rendered “speechless” when he captured his images at a waterhole in Kenya.1
“If I hadn’t looked upon her with my own eyes, I might not have believed that such an elephant could exist in our world.”
He was referring to an aged female elephant that had been long identified and known by wildlife authorities as F_MU1. Burrard-Lucas however preferred to bestow on her a more regal identifier. “If there were a Queen of Elephants, it would surely have been her.” She was said to have roamed the plains of Tsavo, Kenya, for more than 60 years. Burrard-Lucas was able to capture his photos shortly before she died of natural causes.
“Her tusks were so long that they scraped the ground in front of her. She was like a relic from a bygone era,” he said.
‘Bygone’ is an apt descriptor, or very nearly so, anyway. According to Dr Mark Jones from the Born Free wildlife charity:
Super-tuskers are very rare these days, precisely because their big tusks [make] them prime targets for trophy hunters. Because these animals are all-too-often taken out before they have reached their reproductive prime, super-tusker genes are being bred out of elephant populations, and we could very well be seeing the last of them.
Indeed, once the genes for large tusks are lost from the population, it seems they are gone forever. Trophy hunters are having similar impacts on moose antler size, and the horns of wild bighorn sheep.2 The selective culling of herd members with trophy-worthy tusks, antlers, and horns is essentially an artificially imposed version of ‘natural selection’. The resultant populations with small-sized head armory—in elephants, even trending towards complete tusklessness3—is right in line with the Bible’s Creation/Fall historical account. It in no way fits the evolutionary narrative that pond scum became pachyderms (no matter how much time is invoked). That’s because neither ‘artificial’ nor ‘natural’ selection can ever generate any new genetic information. Selection (whether artificial or natural) can only operate on (i.e. cull out) genetic information that already exists. Evolutionists invoke genetic mistakes (mutations) to magically produce the genetic novelty whenever evolution requires it. But reality shows that such random accidents are hopelessly inadequate for the task. Indeed, in some elephants at least, tusklessness has been attributed to “a chance genetic mutation”.4 Overall, mutations contribute to decline, not improvement.5 This is true even if the decline (loss of information) is advantageous, such as tusklessness in a hunted elephant population. The reason super-tusk genes existed at all was not by evolution, but creation.
So, vale super-tusker, vale super-tusk genes.
References and notes
- Last photos of Kenya’s ‘elephant queen’, bbc.co.uk, 12 Mar 2019. Return to text.
- Bighorn horns not so big, Creation 32(4):12–13, 2010; creation.com/bighorn. Return to text.
- Catchpoole, D., Why the elephant is losing its tusks (and it’s not evolution!), Creation 37(1):21, 2015; creation.com/elephant-tusks. Return to text.
- Elephants ‘ditch tusks’ to survive, news.bbc.co.uk, 25 Sep 1998. Return to text.
- Williams, A., Mutations: evolution’s engine becomes evolution’s end, J. Creation 22(2):60–66, 2008; creation.com/evolutions-end. Return to text.