How A Smoking Elephant Is Leaving The Indian Wildlife Experts Perplexed

The video was taken at Nagarahole National Park.

Smoking elephant, Nagarahole National Park, WCS, Wildlife conservation society, Karnataka, Vinay Kumar, Varun R Goswami, Srikanth Rao, The smoking elephant

Scientist and wildlife experts have lost their minds after watching an elephant puffing out smoke.

For all those who thought it was a made up- edited viral video, then let me tell you that this actually is a rarest of the rare sight to watch!

The video was shot by Vinay Kumar, a scientist belonging to the Wildlife Conservation Society (India). This 48-second video was captured by him during his work trip to Nagarhole forest in Karnataka state in April 2016.

Source: wcsindia

Wondering why it wasn't released till now? Because he did not "quite realise its importance".

A statement issued by Wildlife Conservation Society (India), reads out,

This is the first known video-documentation of a wild elephant exhibiting such behaviour, and this has left the experts puzzled.

Source: wcsindia

According to Mr. Kumar, he and his team were on an early morning forest visit, where they were monitoring camera traps set up to capture images of tigers. That was the time when, he spotted the female elephant barely 50m (164ft) away, puffing the smoke. Immediately then he began filming the sight with his point-and-shoot camera.

According to the statement,

The elephant "appears to ingest charcoal" left by a controlled fire on the ground and "blow out the ashes"

Mr. Kumar further added, 

What we saw that day almost appeared as though the elephant was smoking - she would draw up a trunk full of ash close to her mouth and blow it out in a puff of smoke!

While the scientists still couldn’t find any reason on why he was blowing ashes, the experts and biologist tried to come up with some explanation.

After examining the video, elephant biologist Varun R Goswami believes that "most probably, the elephant was trying to ingest wood charcoal, as she appeared to be picking up something from the burnt forest floor, blowing away the ash that came along with it in her trunk, and consuming the rest".

He further continued saying,

Charcoal has been well recognised toxin-binding properties, and although it may not have much nutritional content, wild animals may be attracted to it for this medicinal value. It said that, charcoal can also serve as a laxative, thereby doubling its utility for animals that consume it after forest fires, lighting strikes, or controlled burns.

Information source: bbc, thehindu

Title image: bbc

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Shruti Mendulkar (WRITER)

I am a girl full of beans. What drives me crazy is food, not just savoring it but also preparing it. I am a writer, food blogger, designer and potter header…oops, went too much with the flow!