You must have often come across videos of orangutan smoking cigarette like a pro but have you ever seen an elephant doing so. An assistant director at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), India Program made a video at Nagarhole National Park in Karnataka in which a jumbo can be seen enjoying smoke.
The puzzling video that has gone viral may have a simple explanation for its odd behaviour. The jumbo was possibly ingesting charcoal and blowing the ash out, the group behind the clip said today. Shot in the in April 2016 when a WCS India Program team was involved in a project monitoring tiger and prey, the video has been shared on social media sites and the elephant's behaviour debated at length in recent days. "Our colleague, Vinay Kumar, captured a video of a wild Asian elephant seemingly smoking', as it appears to ingest charcoal and blows out the ashes," a statement issued by the body claimed.
THE SMOKING #ELEPHANT! This video taken by our colleague Mr Vinay Kumar, captures a wild Asian Elephant exhibiting incredibly unusual behaviour–ingesting charcoal and blowing out the ashes! He recalls the incredible sighting in detail: https://t.co/cn3ooLBanD @TheWCS pic.twitter.com/DpUyf5w4vA— WCS-India (@WCSIndia) March 24, 2018
This is the first known video-documentation of a wild elephant exhibiting such behaviour, and thus had scientists and experts puzzled, the statement said.Varun R Goswami, elephant biologist and senior scientist with WCS India Program, said that in all probability, the elephant was trying to ingest wood charcoal, as she appeared to be picking up something from the burnt forest floor, blowing the ash away that came along with it in her trunk and consuming the rest.
Charcoal has well recognised toxin-binding properties which attract wild animals, the statement added. It can also serve as a laxative, thereby doubling its utility for animals that consume it after forest fires, lightning strikes or controlled burns, it said. Kumar said that though he felt there was something unique about the elephant and the elephant and the smoke when he was shooting the video, he forgot about the episode later.
Recently while checking his records, he stumbled on to the video again."I discussed it with Goswami and it was then decided that we would release it," he said.The statement said the video has been shared extensively by international agencies and publications.
(With PTI inputs)
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