Friday, December 16, 2005

Science on the march: safe to let your elephant booze it up

If you've been keeping your elephant on a short leash out of concern for your neighbors, you can relax--some one did the math:
ELEPHANTS are big, powerful and can be very dangerous - but they are not drunkards. Anecdotes about African elephants going on alcohol-fuelled rampages after eating the fermented fruit of the marula tree are probably incorrect, says Steven Morris at the University of Bristol, UK.

Assuming an alcohol content of 3 per cent, his team calculates that a 3-tonne elephant would need to eat more than 1200 fruit to get drunk. That would require a diet solely of fermented marula fruit consumed at 400 times the normal maximum food intake.

It is more likely that "drunk" bulls are just defending a prized food source, says Morris. The study will be published in Physiological and Biochemical Zoology next year.

No word yet on rhinos or RINOs.