Elephants get Tipsy on Marulas
South African Holiday to include the wildlife of the Kruger Park.
All the Elephants are getting tipsy on marulas? If your South African Holiday falls in the early part of the year when the Marula fruit ripens, it is possible, but never guaranteed, that you may see various animals eating the “fruit of Kings” The fermenting fruit in their stomachs does produce an intoxicating effect, which can be very entertaining as smaller animals struggle to maintain their balance.
Everyone loves this tale, it is like something out of a Amarula advert, the glorious Amarula fruit with the elephants eating off it. The thing people don’t see in that advert is the drunken act and the hangover the next day.
However it is not only the elephants, who are so famous for enjoying these smooth-skinned, large-stoned fruits of the mango family, but also monkeys, baboons, impala, kudu, warthogs, zebra…and of course, humans.There has always been an African myth about the marula fruit intoxicating large mammals when they have consumed huge amounts of the ripened, fallen fermenting fruit.
Observing this one will more than likely see the younger elephants walked behind the older siblings picking up the fruit as they made their way and consumed them. The older elephants seemed to be ‘teaching’ the youngsters what to eat, and what not to eat.
As amusing as this thought may be, in reality, an elephant eating only marulas may eat in the region of 30 kg in one day or approximately 714 individual fruits.
This is less than half of the marulas needed to produce intoxication. There have been observations & reports of elephant behaviour that resembles an intoxicated state, but the calculations show that this is unlikely to occur only from eating marulas.
So the question everyone is asking how much to get an elephant drunk?
Assuming that fermenting marula fruit would have an alcohol content of 7 percent, it would require 7.1 gallons (27 liters) of marula juice to come up with that half-gallon of alcohol, the scientists say. Producing a liter of marula wine requires 200 fruits. So an elephant would have to ingest more than 1,400 well-fermented fruits to start to get drunk. Even then the elephant would have to ingest the alcohol all at once, the authors note. Otherwise its effects would wear off as quickly as the alcohol was metabolized. Robert Dudley, a biologist at the University of California, Berkeley who was not involved in the study, believes the authors have put to rest the lore of elephants getting drunk from marula fruit. The study, he said, “establishes that elephants are unlikely to be inebriated but also that chronic low-level consumption [of alcohol] without overt behavioral effects is likely.”It may make for a good story and a durable myth, but the science suggests you’re not likely to see a drunken elephant sitting under a marula tree.
At the end of the day Nature never disappoints you. You will enjoy different experience everyday during your South African Holiday