A routine camera trap check in a national park in India turned out to be anything but.
Vinay Kumar, assistant director at Wildlife Conservation Society India, recently spotted a wild Asian Elephant ingesting charcoal and blowing out the ashes with the apparent fervour of a committed smoker.
He actually took the amazing video in April 2016 while in the field monitoring tiger-prey populations in Nagarahole National Park, Karnataka. But it was only recently released.
This elephant really takes the charcoal diet craze to unexpected heights.
The bizarre encounter happened as the field crew entered a partially burnt deciduous forest.
That when they came upon female elephant standing along the road.
“This was not an unusual sighting, but what we saw her doing was something that I had never witnessed before, and it has probably not been commonly captured on film earlier either,” Kumar explained later in a statement.
Not believing his eyes, he switched the camera to video-mode.
“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!” he wrote.
WCS elephant biologist Dr. Varun R. Goswami later suggested the elephant was trying to eat wood charcoal. The experts surmised that while charcoal doesn’t have much nutritional value, it does have toxin-binding properties, which may attract wild animals for its medicinal value.
“Charcoal can also serve as a laxative, thereby doubling its utility for animals that consume it after forest fires, lightning strikes, or controlled burns of the type we saw in Nagarahole that day,” Kumar added.
— WCS Newsroom (@WCSNewsroom) March 22, 2018