Intense selective hunting leads to artificial evolution in horn size
A study of African elephants by Karen McComb and colleagues revealed that matriarchs are repositories of social knowledge for family groups (Reports, "Matriarchs as repositories of social knowledge in African elephants," 20 Apr., p. 491). Therefore, the authors suggest that the removal of older elephants by hunters could have serious consequences for the conservation of the species. McComb et al. did not elaborate on conservation issues, so we wish to discuss two key considerations that are important to take into account in elephant conservation efforts: namely, the different consequences of legal versus illegal hunting, and the importance of habitat loss in reducing elephant numbers.