Drunk elephants stagger around after eating fermented marula fruit

24 Apr 2014 Animals
Drunk elephants stagger around after eating fermented marula fruit

Elephants stumbled around and fell over after eating marula fruit in Kruger National Park.

If you substituted the animals for humans, it’s the sort of scene you might see on a Friday night in Newcastle or Cardiff.

These comical pictures were taken after a herd of young elephants ate a fruit which is said to make large mammals drunk when eaten in huge quantities.

Marula fruit - said to be sweet, tart and refreshing - apparently has an intoxicating effect when consumed after it has ripened and fallen to the ground.

Ross Couper, a field guide who works for luxury safari outfit Singita in South Africa's Kruger National Park, saw the elephants begin to stumble around and fall over their siblings.

He said: ‘We watched in awe because the youngsters definitely seemed to display signs of being rather tipsy.

However, it has also been claimed that the unusual behaviour is actually caused by eating beetle pupae that live in the bark of marula trees.

Tipsy: These comical pictures were taken after a herd of young elephants ate a fruit which is said to make large mammals drunk when eaten in huge quantities
On the floor: The marula fruit - said to taste sweet, tart and refreshing - has an intoxicating effect when consumed after it has ripened and fallen to the ground
Spotted: Ross Couper, a field guide at Singita Kruger National Park in South Africa, saw the elephants begin to stumble around and fall over their siblings

Spotted: Ross Couper, a field guide at Singita Kruger National Park in South Africa, saw the elephants begin to stumble around and fall over their siblings

Unusual: Observers watched 'in awe because the youngsters definitely seemed to display signs of being rather tipsy', Mr Couper said

Unusual: Observers watched 'in awe because the youngsters definitely seemed to display signs of being rather tipsy', Mr Couper saidOne too many, mate? If you substituted the animals for humans, it's the sort of scene you might see on a Friday night in Newcastle or Cardiff

Huge quantities: Adult elephants can eat the equivalent to more than 700 of the fruits if they consume nothing else during a day
Collapsed: This year saw a bumper crop of marula fruit falling to the ground, providing an irresistible treat for the herd of young elephants

Collapsed: This year saw a bumper crop of marula fruit falling to the ground, providing an irresistible treat for the herd of young elephants

Sleeping it off: It is also thought the strange behaviour could come from eating beetle pupae that live in the bark of marula trees
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