News, Culture & Society

Naughty Nellie appears to enjoy a smoke 

  • Five-ton beast was captured on camera ‘smoking’ in the wild in southern India
  • She was seen picking up ash left behind on the ground by smouldering wood
  • The elephant places the ash in her mouth before blowing out a puff of smoke
  • Scientists believe she was trying to eat charcoal, which is a laxative for animals 

An elephant was captured on camera appearing to smoke a crafty cigarette in the woods. 

The five-ton beast in southern India can be seen in a video clip picking up ash left behind by smouldering blocks of wood with her trunk and placing them in her mouth. 

She then closes her mouth before blowing out a puff of smoke, making it look like she’s smoking. 

The clip was captured by Vinay Kumar, assistant director with the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS)-India Program, and the footage has left the charity’s scientists and others scratching their heads.

The animal blowing out a huge puff of smoke in the woods

WCS field staff, including Mr Kumar, were visiting camera-trap locations in Nagarahole National Park in India as part of a long-term project to study tigers and their prey.

But as they travelled the forest, they stumbled upon the elephant’s bizarre behavior.

Assessing the animal’s behaviour, WCS India’s elephant biologist Dr Varun Goswami said: ‘I believe the elephant may have been trying to ingest wood charcoal.

‘She appeared to be picking up pieces from the forest floor, blowing away the ash that came along with it, and consuming the rest.’

Charcoal has toxin-binding properties that may provide medicinal value to animals and it can also serve as a laxative which would relieve bloating. 

Elephants are thought to consume the charcoal after forest fires, lightning strikes, or controlled burns.