Elephant meat is not sold commercially as most elephant species are protected. Moreover, the elephant is considered to be very useful and killing the animal for its meat is considered to be a waste. However, in Africa and Central Asia, wild rampaging elephants are commonly shot to prevent human casualties. These killed animals are then field dressed and used as a food source. Poachers also illegally kill the tusked species for their tusks and then sell the leftover meat in local African village markets.
History of Elephant Meat Consumption
Elephants were hunted during ancient times for their meat and their ivory. In Africa, it was very common to find elephant meat prepared on special occasions. In recent years, extensive hunting of the tusked species of elephant has resulted in an imbalance in the elephant population of Africa and Asia. In some regions like Congo, Zimbabwe, and Kenya, active hunting of the animal is still carried out as a food source and for its ivory. However, hunting of the animal for meat or for its ivory is illegal under international law.
Culinary Usage of Elephant Meat
Every part of the elephant was utilized for its meat. As the animal was large, a single animal could easily yield about 1300-1400 lbs of meat which was enough to feed 250 people for a week. For example, the meat was utilized by locals in the form of curries and roasts. The excess meat was then smoked over green tree branches and then cut up into strips. These strips were preserved for later use. They were most commonly used in soups to make elephant soups. Diced vegetables like carrots, onions, peanuts, leeks and mushrooms were added to the soup. According to a few African-Arabian recipes the dried meat was pounded into a paste or powder called as melach that was used as a flavoring ingredient in rice and lentil dishes.
Elephant meat is supposed to be very coarse, being reddish purple in color. It is has a texture similar to elk or moose. The meat has to be boiled immediately or dried immediately to preserve the taste. The fat has to be dried or separated out, or it tends to acquire an unpleasant smell which cannot be removed even with boiling.
In recent years, elephant meat has acquired a reputation of being an aphrodisiac. As a result, illegal hunting and slaughtering of the animal has been on the rise.