India: Elephants ‘Got Drunk’ on Alcohol Made by Villagers



  • Villagers in eastern India found 24 elephants in a deep sleep near their broken pots of mahua.
  • Mahua is a potent alcoholic drink made from the fermented flowers of a tropical tree.
  • Forest department officials used drums to rouse the elephants from their alcoholic slumber, a report said.

A herd of Indian elephants “got drunk” on liquor made by the residents of Salipada, a village in the east Indian state of Odisha, The Times reported.

The elephants found large clay pots of “mahua”  — an alcoholic drink made from the fermented flowers of the Madhuca Longifolia tropical tree. Pure mahua has an alcohol content level of up to 45%.

The pots of intoxicating mahua were left out to ferment in the jungle, The Times said, and Salipada residents were shocked to see the containers shattered and emptied of liquid.

The newspaper said that residents discovered a herd of 24 elephants, including calves, asleep near the smashed pots.

“They consumed the fermented water and got drunk,” said Naria Sethi, a villager, per the Press Trust of India.

“That liquor was unprocessed,” Sethi added, per The Indian Express. “We tried to wake up the animals but failed. The forest department was then informed.”

Forest department officials used drums to rouse the elephants from their deep slumber, The Indian Express reported.

Ghasiram Patra, a forest ranger, told The Indian Express that the animals fled into the jungle.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Kartick Satyanarayan, chief executive of Wildlife SOS, said that elephants are drawn to the smell of mahua. “They love it. It’s pure, it’s tasty, and it’s powerful,” he said.

Satyanarayan told The Sunday Times the villagers’ claim that the entire herd got drunk “seems a bit unusual” because usually one elephant “looks out for the rest of the herd.”

A 2020 study in the journal Biology Letters found that elephants may be able to get drunk on small quantities of alcohol relative to their size because they are unable to metabolize alcohol in the same way as humans.



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