Hi all tuskermites.
Here number two of the specials about tuskers. This time more about the tusks of elephant's and the development of a (promising) big tusker.
I regularly get questions about the tusks of (Big) Tuskers.
One of the questions is about growth and another why do most Tuskers have a “chip” in one of their tusks and for what purposes do Tuskers use their tusks.About growth of the tusks:
Growth of the Tusks
A little more about the tusks and how they develop over the years.
The first tusks of an elephant calf are called “tushes”. These tushes are replaced by permanent second ones within 6 to 13 months after birth.
These tusks forming the proper tusks like we can see when the elephant is 2 to 3 years old.
Tusks grow continuously throughout the elephant’s life.
There is a kind of fast increase in length between 2 to 6 years, followed by a slower but lineair that persists until death. Probably at this age we already can see if a male elephant will be a promising tusker later on.
By the age of 20 the mean tusk weight for males has surpassed the maximum mean attained by females.
Because the rate of growth in the length of the tusks is constant throughout life and the circumference of the tusks are increasing simultaneously, the mass of the tusks in a male elephant increase at an escalating rate with the major weight gain in the elephant’s life.
So…. The (big) tuskers we know are mainly over 40 years of age and they have longer and thicker tusks then other male elephants at the age. In a relative way the tusks are growing more rapid after the age of 40 then between 20 and 40.
You can say that the “talented” tuskers will gain more weight by the way they grow… so longer and more “volume” then others.
In my previous post about MAC we can see this is true by the last measurement of his tusks.About "chips - grass notches and use:
Elephants (including the tuskers) do use their tusks for different purposes, like digging for water, salt and roots, but also to manipulate / debark felled trees and branches.
Another use is to support their head while they rest (sleep). We sometimes see this when their tusks are resting on the edge of concrete waterholes or on a tree and they don’t move for some time, kind of “taking a nap”.
A different use of the the tusks is to defend themselves or for offencing reasons. Mainly when they are in musth.
Now coming to answer the second question about the “chip” in one of their tusks.
The constant manipulation of grass wears a groove into the tip of the tusk which can be seen with many tuskers (elephants). This groove is known as a “grass notch”
The tusk with this “grass notch” is always the so called “master tusk”. Like humans tuskers are right or left handed. The “master tusk” is usually shorter and more rounded at the tip caused by greater wear.
To support this I added a picture of such a “grass notch”
It is the master tusk of Nwanedzi who was so kind to pose just a few meters away from me near Letaba.
This was number two in this series...hope you lik it