• Question: can ivory on elephants grow back once sawed of by vets but not killing them like poachers

    Asked by whtalia to Emma, Mike on 6 Jul 2012.
    • Photo: Emma Trantham

      Emma Trantham answered on 6 Jul 2012:

      Hmmm this is a good question.

      I know that elephant tusks keep growing (slowly – ~18cm a year) throughout their lives so I guess they would grow back, at least a bit. (And from reading a bit more they seem to have good healing abilities in their trunk.)

      The problem is that elephants use their trunks to dig for water, to strip bark from trees (to eat the bark), and as a weapon in fights. If they didn’t have trunks for a period of time then I think they would be at a disadvantage.

      I guess another problem would be risk of infection in the open wound after the tusk was cut off.

      I wonder if Mike knows anymore…

    • Photo: Michael Cook

      Michael Cook answered on 6 Jul 2012:

      Like Emma says, the growth is so slow but I think it would probably heal up over time. But if it were to live in the wild, it wouldn’t survive long.