Under the influence! Young elephants get 'drunk' in South Africa


A herd of young elephants were pictured behaving like drunken fools after eating one too many marulas in South Africa.

Ross Couper, a field guide at Singita Kruger National Park, captured hilarious images of the herd as they stumbled through the bush after consuming excessive quantities of the native fruit.

He witnessed the animals move through the bush, feeding on the fruit strewn across the ground - the older and wiser elephants teaching the young what to eat. One of the adult cow elephants forcefully knocked the fruit down from a tree, shaking it back and forth for the young to feed on. Having consumed an immense quantity of fruit already throughout their journey, the youngsters began to act rather strangely, displaying signs of being tipsy as they stumbled around and fell over their siblings.

While it was speculated their behaviour was the result of eating beetle pupae that live in the bark of marula trees or due to the prized nature of the fruit causing bull elephants to protect their food in any way possible, Couper's photos certainly give the impression the young elephants enjoyed one too many marula fruit cocktails.

Surrounded by African myth, the marula fruit – described as sweet, tart and refreshing, is thought to have an intoxicating effect on large mammals when enormous quantities of the ripened, fallen fermenting fruit are consumed. This year saw an abundance of the fruit falling to the ground, proving an irresistible treat for the group of young elephants making their way across the South African plains. Elephants can consume up to 30kg, approximately 714 marula fruit, in one day.

'Tipsy' elephants at Singita Kruger National Park

'Tipsy' elephants at Singita Kruger National Park

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