An Indian Elephant Has Been Filmed Smoking In The Woods
If we told you that we had footage of an animal smoking, you'd probably think it was some sad beagle in a cage, but in fact, a video has emerged of something altogether more unusual.
Conservationists have managed to capture footage of an Indian elephant puffing clouds of smoke into the air, but zoologists are baffled as to how it has come to pass.
The elephant was spotted in the state of Karnataka in the south of India, by Vinay Kumar, a scientist with India's Wildlife Conservation Society, reports the Guardian. He whipped out his phone and took the video, which has now gone viral around the world.
"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," he told the New Indian Express.
"As cameras clicked, I switched on to the video mode and filmed what would be an amazing sight to behold, a behaviour that has had experts trying to decipher the exact nature of the action.
"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."
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The main theory that scientists have come up with is that the elephant might have been trying to ingest charcoal, which had appeared on the ground of the forest after a fire, which might have been caused by a lightning strike, a bushfire or a controlled fire.
Animals are known to self-medicate and are aware of certain substances that can be beneficial for their health, so it isn't out of the question that the elephant thought that inhaling the smoke was a good idea.
Dr Varun R Goswami, elephant biologist and senior scientist with Wildlife Conservation Society India Program, told the New Indian Express: "Charcoal has well-recognised toxin-binding properties, and although it may not have much nutritional content, wild animals may be attracted to it for its medicinal value."
He described it as 'the first known video documentation of a wild elephant exhibiting such behaviour, and has scientists and experts puzzled'.
Plausible. Well, at least it's not a Beagle sucking down a pack of cigs, eh?
Featured Image Credit: WCS