Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Tusklessness in the elephant population of the Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa

  • Anna M. Whitehouse (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 June 2002

The majority (98%) of the 174 female elephants in South Africa's Addo Elephant National Park are tuskless. Long-term records are used to assess trends in tusklessness in this elephant population throughout the 20th century. These data are then used to test hypotheses of possible causes of this tusklessness. It is shown that attributes of the region's vegetation (structure and/or nutrient composition) and selective hunting cannot provide adequate explanations for the high frequency of tusklessness among the Addo elephants. Non-selective genetic changes resulting from the population's isolation, small size and bottlenecks (during the 1800s and 1920s) are suggested to be primarily responsible for the observed tusklessness. The rapid increase in the frequency of tusklessness during the past 70 years provides a phenotypic indicator of underlying genetic drift.

Corresponding author
All correspondence to: Addo Elephant National Park, P.O. Box 52, Addo 6105, South Africa. E-mail:
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Zoology
  • ISSN: 0952-8369
  • EISSN: 1469-7998
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-zoology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *