The Truth Behind The Elephant With Pink Tusks

People want to help elephants, who are being killed faster than they are being born. Usually, it's for their tusks - ivory is worth a fortune and some people are desperate enough to kill an endangered animal to make big bucks.

Every now and then, an idea surfaces about how to save elephants from this rampant poaching.

Thula Thula

One idea that resurfaces in online petitions and social media is the mysterious pink-tusked elephant. The people who suggest staining an elephant's tusks pink are trying to figure out a way to make ivory less valuable to poachers.

But according Joyce Poole, in a statement released by Thula Thula Game Reserve, this isn't a viable option. "People frequently suggest dyeing tusks ... as a way to save elephants," she wrote. "Dyeing is not a realistic solution."

Part of the reason for this is the risk of the process, which would necessarily involve anesthetizing the elephant, which could compromise the animal's health. Another issue is that an elephant tusk is one huge tooth, and almost one third of the tooth is embedded inside the elephant's skull, Poole pointed out. It's possible that poachers would still kill the animal for the unstained ivory inside the elephant's head. And as the elephant's tusks grow - a little less than an inch per year - the pink tusk wouldn't keep the elephant safe forever.

Put simply: "Dyeing is unlikely to deter poachers and their task masters," Poole wrote.

Rather than clever quick fixes, wiping out demand for elephant tusk may be the only way to truly help elephants. But people have to learn quickly about the victims of ivory products, since saving elephants is a race against time.

And in case you were wondering, yes, the photo of the pink-tusked elephant that went viral is a fake.

Click here to help endangered baby animals at Thula Thula's orphanage.