»  BiologyScience   »   Elephant’s tusks are a blessing and a curse.
  5 April 2020

Elephant’s tusks are a blessing and a curse.

  5 April 2020

Elephant’s tusks are a blessing and a curse.

Ivory is a variety of dentin of which the tusk of the elephant is composed and which is prized for its beauty, durability, and suitability for carving.
Elephant tusks evolved from teeth, giving the species an evolutionary advantage. They serve a variety of purposes:
    • Digging
    • Lifting objects
    • Gathering food
    • Stripping bark from trees to eat
    • Defense
    • Also protect the trunk—another valuable tool for drinking, breathing, and eating, among other uses.

Ivory poaching for tusks is the main reason that elephants have been so heavily hunted. Elephant ivory has been used in huge amounts to make billiards balls, piano keys, identification chops and many other items for human enjoyment.

Industries, ivory is used in the manufacture of electrical appliances, including specialized electrical equipment for airplanes and radar.

The tusks have a good amount of calcium phosphate. Therefore it can be used as an anti-convulsant and to help heal sore throats.

Ivory billiard balls

Ivory is expensive mainly because its supply is very limited, coming from elephant tusks only. And prized for its close-grained texture, adhesive hardness, mellow color, and pleasing smoothness. It may be painted or bleached and is an excellent material for carving.

Can be removed tusks without killing the elephant?

It can, but would be painful. There is a nerve that runs well down the length of an elephant’s tusk. Cutting the tusk off would be painful, similar to you breaking a tooth.

But poachers use darts, poison and high-powered automatic rifles with night scopes to take elephants down and, while they are dying, the tusks are gouged out of from the living elephant’s skull.

Are there any substitutes?

Consequently, many tusk-bearing species have been hunted commercially and several are endangered. So, synthetic substitutes for ivory in the use of most of these items have been developed since 1800. The billiard industry challenged inventors to come up with an alternative material that could be manufactured and  piano industry also abandoned ivory as a key covering material in the 1970s.

Elephant’s tusks are both a blessing and a curse.

A blessing because they give a sense of true majesty that raise them above other animals as well and being of use for various tasks. A curse because man’s greed for ivory has led to the senseless slaughter of hundreds of thousands of magnificent animals.

  • billiard balls
  • elephants
  • nature
  • piano keys
  • substitutes for tusks
  • tusk poaching
  • tusks


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