Elephants and Beer

Elephants and Beer

Story appears courtesy of the Teluga Portal, which published it back in 2006, but siimilar stories show up every couple of years.

Wild elephants rampage villages for rice beer

Guwahati, June 30, 2006 (IANS) Herds of wild elephants are running amok in Assam, damaging vast swathes of crops and also mud and thatch huts as they move out of their jungles to look for rice beer in human settlement areas in northeastern India.


The raids by the pachyderms have resulted in at least five people losing their lives during the past two months. Wildlife officials are in a quandary as the huge animals feast on the farmlands - mainly rice fields and sugarcane cultivations.


The latest raid by herds of wild pachyderms took place in the eastern district of Golaghat.


"The villagers saw the elephant herd and fled their homes fearing for their lives. The same herd is terrorising people in nearby villages as well, damaging their crops and properties," said Haridhan Tanti, a community elder of Soutali village in Golaghat.


Angry over the elephant attacks, villagers Thursday locked the local forest office alleging the officials were indifferent in chasing away the herd.


"This is a real problem. We are doing our best to ward off such marauding herds, but then it is not possible to deploy forest officials in each and every village to keep track of the elephants," a senior wildlife warden said.


During the past two months, the wild elephants herds have been wreaking havoc in several parts of Assam with the pachyderms fancying harvested rice stalks and the 'moonshine' country liquor that many of the villagers brew from fermented rice.


"We have noticed that elephants really relish guzzling rice beer which many tribal people and tea garden workers ferment at home," Kushal Konwar Sharma, a noted elephant expert and a teacher at the College of Veterinary Science in Guwahati, told IANS.


Experts say wild elephants have been moving out of the jungles with people encroaching upon the animal corridors. This in turn is leading to an increasing number of elephant attacks on villages.


"A shrinking forest cover and encroachment of elephant corridors have forced the pachyderms to stray out of their habitats to human settlement areas," Sharma said.

In the past, villagers drove away marauding herds by beating drums or bursting firecrackers. Now with man-elephant conflict on the rise, they poison the animals.


In the last five years, elephants have killed at least 150 people in Assam.


Angry villagers, in turn, have killed up to 200 of the animals during the same period, some of which were brought down with poisoned-tipped arrows. The last elephant census in 1999 recorded 5,400 elephants in Assam, more than half of India's count of 10,000.

The Truth About Elephants and Beer

Originally published by Beer Church in Oct. 1999

Gauhati, India – October 24, 1999 (AP) - Wildlife officials recently reported that a herd of wild elephants went on a drunken rampage and trampled four people to death. The herd of 15 Elephants descended on a village in the Assam region of northeastern India, broke into a cluster of thatched huts, guzzled several casks of beer then tore the village apart.

"After drinking the beer, the elephant herd became intoxicated and went on a rampage, trampling to death four members of a family," said wildlife official and elephant expert Kushal Konwar Sharma. According to Sharma, the animals trampled rice paddies and more huts before leaving the area.

At least 100 people have been killed in elephant attacks during the past year in Assam, where 5,000 wild elephants are estimated to be living. Human encroachment and a shrinking forest habitat have been the main causes of the problem.

After reading the news report that was posted here at Beer Church recently, the story about the drunk elephants, I got to thinking about elephants and beer. The incident is far from the first of its kind. Human encroachment into the elephant's habitat has caused many unfortunate and ill-fated situations like this.

Most people are surprised to hear that such situations have often involved beer. I'm not joking. In Africa and certain parts of Asia, it's the stuff of legend, myth and folklore. Elephants are known to love beer, along with other fermented beverages. Who's to blame them?

Elephants are considered to be one of the more intelligent animal species on earth. Their love of beer is perhaps the most solid evidence of that intelligence. Sure, there are other reasons why experts have come to the conclusion that elephants are intelligent, but none so convincing as their love of beer. For instance, elephants have a highly developed social structure. So what? So do the French. A highly developed social structure isn't an indication of intelligence. The French also have a highly developed language with thirty different words for "wine," but not one single word for "beer." Draw your own conclusions. Anyway, my point is that elephants are intelligent and good natured creatures. To think that they haven't got this whole beer thing figured out is silly.

Although their eyesight is pretty lousy, elephants have a remarkable sense of smell. So it's no use trying to hide beer from elephants. If you've got beer, they're going to know it. Elephants can emit a low-frequency call that is too low for humans to hear, but can be heard by other elephants over 12 miles away. So if one elephant finds beer, you can bet that he has the ability to tell all of his pachyderm pals.

You'll have to trust me on this one. The last thing you want to see on a Friday night is a herd of thirsty elephants come barging into you local watering hole. They drink a lot. And although elephants are intelligent, they can't handle their buzz very well.

The city of Seattle, the place I call home, is currently working on legislation which would ban the display of exotic and wild animals in city-owned and operated facilities; or within city limits. By all indications it will soon become law. This is good news for our local breweries and taverns, as well as us normal citizens. No circus, no elephants.

I have got nothing against elephants. Far from it. They are one of my favorite members of the animal kingdom. They are regal, noble, ancient creatures who sit high atop the food chain with no natural enemies. Well, except for us. Elephants have families. They morn visibly when one of the herd dies, and they actually have death rituals. No doubt, they have high emotions as well as high intelligence. They are very, very cool. That having been said, I think it's inappropriate for them to come into a bar to drink beer. Let's face it, it's a logistical nightmare. All things in their place. An elephant's place is in the wilderness.

So I am happy that my city government has decided that the display of exotic and wild animals should be prohibited. I urge you to put pressure on your local government to do the same. That way we won't have to worry about herds of elephants draining the kegs at our local watering holes. It's not a pretty sight. After a drunk elephant has been in there, you do not want to go into the men's room.

Another good reason to ban the display of exotic and wild animals is because it is unnecessarily cruel. But that doesn't have anything to do with beer.