Now that’s a funny idea! Such is the spectacle of a show that a team from the Wildlife Conservation Society attended in Nagaharole National Park in India. While they were checking a camera supposed to record the behaviour of local tigers, they came across this elephant:
Was this a well-deserved vaping break? Not exactly. Varun Goswami, an expert elephant scientist for the WCS, explained that the animal is not in fact vaping. The elephant is eating charcoal and spitting out the ashes. But why? Don’t worry, this elephant isn’t starving.
Beautiful proof of intelligence
In fact, elephants sometimes eat charcoal as medicine! Charcoal has a laxative effect in addition to containing certain anti-toxins.
This charcoal comes from fire lines created by the Department of Indian Forests, to control the spread of a possibly devastating fire.
The only other animal species known to consume charcoal is the red Colobus monkey of Zanzibar, which eats charcoal to obtain a necessary anti-toxin for its digestive system. This monkey owes this practice to the consumption of mangos, which are filled with phenols toxic to the monkeys’ digestive system.