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Do African Animals Really Get Drunk In The Wild After Eating Overripe Marula Fruit?

You may have heard that African animals get drunk in the wild after eating overripe marula fruit. That is, at least, what some people claim, and it is a widely held concept among tourists in Africa. I've heard the stories, and I've had the pleasure of tasting the fruit.

The only thing I wasn't sure about was whether or not it actually got animals drunk. Consequently, I conducted some research and came up with the cold, hard facts. Here's everything you need to know about marula fruits, as well as the legend of the drunken dogs.

A bird sitting next to fallen overripe marula fruits
A bird sitting next to fallen overripe marula fruits

How many of you have heard of the marula fruit or the marula tree? Marula is a gorgeous African tree species that yields scented fruits that are about the size of plums and are harvested in the fall.

What Exactly Is The Marula Fruit?

The marula tree (Sclerocarya birrea) bears yellow fruits in the summer. Marula trees, which have been around for thousands of years in southern Africa, are widely distributed. In the Miombo woodland areas, the most famous of which being the Greater Kruger National Park, one of Africa's most popular safari locations, you'll be able to spot them.

The marula tree's scientific name is Sclerocarya birrea, and it is native to Africa. It is common to refer to the marula tree as the "elephant tree" in informal conversation. The fruit itself is yellow on the outside and white on the inside, with yellow skin and white meat.

Are You Interested In Learning More About The Origins Of The Marula Fruit?

The following are some fascinating facts about the marula tree that you should know.

  • The marula tree is huge and green, and it can reach heights of up to sixteen feet in height (4.8 m).
  • In fact, the marula tree produces fruit virtually all of the time — even during the dry seasons.
  • In many parts of the world, the marula tree is referred to as "the elephant tree" because of a legend about inebriated elephants who consume the fruit.
  • The South African Forestry Group is responsible for protecting and conserving Marula trees in accordance with the law.
  • Some African groups utilize the bark of the marula tree as an antihistamine and as a malaria preventive method.
  • Even stomach troubles can be alleviated by eating marula fruit.
  • The marula fruit is extremely high in vitamin C, possessing eight times as much as oranges in terms of vitamin C content.
  • For thousands of years, this luscious fruit was a regular part of the diets of people in Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa.
  • The Bantu people brought marula with them on their migration through Africa because it was an important part of their cuisine in the area. It's for this reason that marula fruits are now being grown in nations such as Madagascar and West Africa.
  • The marula fruit's nut contains a high concentration of protein and trace minerals. The fruit is not only a delicacy for elephants, but also for humans. This delectable feast is also enjoyed by impala, kudu, nyala, baboons, warthogs, and a variety of other animals. These animals obtain fallen marula either directly from the ground or as a result of the pachyderms shaking the trees, causing the fruit to fall from the branches and onto the ground.

Advantages And Applications Of The Marula Fruit


What does marula fruit taste like, you may be wondering? A ripe marula has a taste that is almost tart, with sweetness or sourness to it. The sweetness or sourness of the fruit is determined by its ripeness. It has a huge stone the size of a walnut in the center, which contains a soft nut kernel. The kernel is extremely nutritious, and it has a delicate and peculiar aroma that is difficult to describe. Raw or roasted, this is often how people consume it.


The marula fruit can be used in a variety of ways.

  • You can boil the marula skin and use it to make tea, or you can burn it and grind it to use as a coffee alternative.
  • In addition, marula oil may be extracted from the fruit and has a plethora of medicinal properties.


As previously stated, the fruit of the marula tree is a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Also included are oleic acids and other antioxidants, the latter of which is beneficial in the prevention of a variety of ailments, including heart disease. The fruit also has additional health benefits for the bones, skin, hair, and muscles, among other things. The marula fruit is most commonly processed and used in beverages and jellies, among other things. It is hand-harvested in South Africa, where it is transformed into the world-famous creamy drink known as Amarula.

Drunk elephants lying on the ground
Drunk elephants lying on the ground

Is Amarula Fruit Alcohol A Real Thing Or A Myth?

Marula, like most fruits, has the potential to ferment and produce marula alcohol. Similarly, potatoes are fermented to produce vodka, and apples are fermented to produce cider, all of which follow the same principle.

Elephants are quite fond of marula trees; they eat the bark and devour the fruit, after which they scatter marula seeds over their surroundings. Elephant excrement is even used to disseminate the seeds of the plant. As a result, elephants and marula fruits were increasingly associated with mythology over time. According to some, a marula is a form of wildlife liquor that causes elephants to become intoxicated.

According to legend, wild animals would become inebriated by consuming marula fruit that had fallen from trees and fermented while on the ground, according to the account. The story had such an impact that it spawned an entire liquor brand - the famous "Amarula" cream, which is a delectable liqueur akin to Bailey's – as a result of its popularity. As a result, the Marula tree is also referred to as the Amarula tree in the United Kingdom.

Even the liquor company makes use of the lore around marula in order to sell bottles of their product. It is possible to see elephants pulling the fruit from trees in the Amarula commercials, which alludes to a popular urban legend that many Amarula drinkers believe in.

The History Of Animal Booze And Its Origin

When it comes to whether or not this rumor about tipsy elephants in the wild is true, here's what you need to know... There is a long history to this subject, and it has garnered a great deal of attention over the years. What began as Zulu legend evolved into cutting-edge international know-how. It's a straightforward story. Marula fruits fall off the tree and fester on the ground for several weeks. Because they have a high concentration of sugar, the fermentation process occurs swiftly. A variety of animals pass by and eat the fruits, sometimes in large amounts due to the limited availability of food on the savannah.

After that, the animals become inebriated and behave erratically (like most of us do when we over-imbibe). Today, millions of people believe that elephants become intoxicated after eating marula fruit. The concern is, though, if it is truly true.

Is It True That Marula Fruit Makes Animals Drunk?

Sorry to disappoint you, but the narrative you've heard is a complete fabrication. The famous Jamie Uys' footage was entirely manufactured, and the animals were fed alcohol, which may or may not has been intentional. After soaking the marula fruits in booze for many hours, the director and team recorded the scenes in order to make the story appear more credible. Misleading an audience in a major motion picture nowadays would result in a serious scandal. We were living in a different universe at the time.

Is It Possible To Get Drunk Off Of Marula Fruit?

Despite the fact that the account appears plausible, there are numerous flaws in the theory. First and foremost, the majority of animals that feed on marula trees will pluck the fruit directly from the branches of the trees themselves. It is possible for elephants to reach up and grasp the abundant fruit with their trunks. Naturally, they are not required to wait until the item has fallen to the ground.

In the African savanna, food is quite scarce. When the marula fruit is mature, a slew of animals, including elephants, would descend upon the area in search of a tasty treat. As a result, the marula fruit will not have the opportunity to ferment and turn alcoholic. Furthermore, the animals will not be forced to consume rotting fruit.

A few conspiracy theorists speculated about the news that 'African animals get drunk in the wild after eating overripe marula fruit' that fruit could ferment within the elephant's system because it could take up to 48 hours for the fruit to travel through an elephant's digestive tract. Also, such a theory does not hold up under close examination. In order to become intoxicated, a person (or animal) would have to consume 25 percent of their own body weight in fruit (all at the same time). As you may guess, the likelihood of such an event occurring is extremely low.

According to biologist Steve Morris, who spoke to National Geographic, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that elephants are able to become emaciated after eating marula fruit. “People just want to believe in drunken elephants.” It is a funny story, after all.

It's fun, albeit I believe it's absolutely immoral from a moral standpoint. When returning home from Africa, it is traditional to bring back a bottle of Amarula. I know from personal experience that marula fruit can make you inebriated if you consume it from a bottle, but merely biting down on a rotting marula fruit will not get you intoxicated. Perhaps refuting this urban legend about marula fruit will not prevent you from traveling to Africa and seeing the amazing places where marula thrives in its natural habitat.

The video provided below is on Reddit nowadays and it is getting attention more and more as time passes.

"The elephant drunk on the ground still grabbing for more is my spirit animal"


"That could become a buffet for predators"


Why Elephant And Armadillos Might Easily Get Drunk?

The ADH7 gene is responsible for the production of a protein that aids in the breakdown of ethyl alcohol. It is also referred to as ethanol, and it is the form of alcohol that can cause someone to become intoxicated. According to the findings of the new study, elephants are among the animals that are negatively affected by a malfunction of this gene.


What are your thoughts on this news that African animals get drunk in the wild after eating overripe marula fruit? For me, it is really interesting and if it is true I am gonna definitely visit Africa for this wonderful( yet drunk ) experience.

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