An elephant was caught smoking on camera, and it has left people baffled.
A video of a wild elephant in India exhaling ashes has stumped experts worldwide as it is the first document of what appears to be a pachyderm “smoking.”
This video was shot by Vinay Kumar in 2016, a scientist from the Indian branch of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), in Karnataka state’s Nagarhole Forest, but it was released recently “after experts realised its biological significance.”
In the video the female elephant, standing near a carpet of charcoal from a burnt forest floor, seemingly ingests the charcoal. It then exhales the ashes – which appear as puffs of smoke – before walking away.
“This incredibly unusual behaviour of the elephant blowing out ashes is puzzling the scientific community. Nobody is quite sure what is going on,” Kumar told dpa on Tuesday by phone.
Varun Goswami, an elephant biologist with WCS, said he believed the elephant was ingesting the charcoal, which has toxin-binding properties and can serve as a laxative, for medicinal reasons. The video is the first known video documentation of a wild elephant exhibiting such behaviour, WCS said.
Charcoal consumption has never before been observed in elephants, although monkeys in Zanzibar have been known to do it to counteract toxins. Charcoal ash has traditionally been used for dental hygiene in India.
However, Kumar said: “After the video was circulated, there was also this speculation that the elephant was trying to cure a toothache.”
Watch Video here:
Photo, Video Credit: Getty, Youtube