Elephant caught 'smoking' on camera (Video)
Published : 27 Mar 2018, 17:18
An elephant caught on camera puffing out smoke while ingesting charcoal left scientists around the world puzzled.
The 48-second video clip showing the bizarre action of the female elephant was captured by Vinay Kumar, a scientist from the Wildlife Conservation Society (India).
He recorded the video during a work trip to Nagarhole forest in Karnataka state in April 2016.
However, Vinay said he did not release the video earlier failing to realise its ‘importance.’
In the video, the mammal can be seen picking up lumps of charcoal from burned forest floor with its trunk, placing the coal in its mouth, and exhaling a large cloud of smoke.
Scientists have theorised it may have been trying to eat the wood for medicinal reasons.
“I believe the elephant may have been trying to ingest wood charcoal,” said Dr Varun Goswami, WCS India scientist and elephant expert.
“She appeared to be picking up pieces from the forest floor, blowing away the ash that came along with it, and consuming the rest.”
Charcoal has toxin-binding properties, which scientists believe may be of some medicinal value to elephants.
The charred lumps of wood can also serve as a laxative to the pachyderms who are able to consume it in the wild after forest fires or lightning strikes.
Nagarhole National Park in the south east of India is home to threatened species including Asian elephants, Indian bison and tigers.
WCS researchers had been visiting the park as part of a long-term project to study tigers and their prey.
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