Thursday, 29 March 2018

What's Up with This 'Smoke-Breathing' Elephant?

By Jeanna Bryner, Live Science Managing Editor | March 23, 2018 02:34pm ET

An elephant in India seems to have a smoking habit. Conservation scientists spotted the pachyderm hoisting chunks of ashen wood into its mouth and then blowing out puffs of smoke.

"I believe the elephant may have been trying to ingest wood charcoal," Varun Goswami, Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) India program scientist and an elephant biologist, said in a statement. "She appeared to be picking up pieces from the forest floor, blowing away the ash that came along with it, and consuming the rest."

Goswami, an elephant biologist, and his team came across what they are calling the "smoke-breathing" elephant in Nagarahole National Park while checking their "hidden" cameras (also called camera traps) as part of a study of tigers and their prey.

During their forest trek, they saw the elephant standing in a "burnt patch" of the woods. "In India, the Forest Department burns fire lines to create fire breaks that can help control forest fires," Vinay Kumar, assistant director of WCS-India, told Live Science. "And this effort leaves behind wood charcoal on the forest floor."

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