An image of an adult elephant and it’s calf being set on fire by a mob, has won a top Asian wildlife photography award.
The shocking photo shows the two wild animals running away from a crowd, as people hurled flaming balls of tar and crackers at them.
Taken by Biplab Hazra, the photo titled: ‘Hell is here’, was captured in the Bankura district of West Bengal, where human-elephant conflict is rife.
The image won the contest – run by Sanctuary wildlife magazine – and Hazra said the calf was screaming in ‘confusion’ as it fled the ‘crowd of jeering men’, BBC reports.
For these smart, gentle, social animals who have roamed the subcontinent for centuries, hell is now and here.
It is frequently found that people dwelling near forest take resort to various methods which disturb the wild animals & make them ferocious to take revenge.
According to Sanctuary Asia’s Facebook page:
In the Bankura district of West Bengal this sort of humiliation of pachyderms is routine, as it is in the other elephant-range states of Assam, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu and more.
India is the world’s stronghold for the Asian elephant, but this achievement rings hollow as vital elephant habitats and routes continue to be ravaged, and human-elephant conflict escalates to a fatal degree.
The ignorance and bloodlust of mobs that attack herds for fun, is compounded by the plight of those that actually suffer damage to land, life and property by wandering elephants and the utter indifference of the central and state government to recognise the crisis that is at hand.
70 per cent of the world’s population of Asian elephants live in India, but the conflict between them and local people result in up to 300 human deaths and 50 elephant deaths per year.
This conflict is largely based on crop raiding because elephants may prefer feeding on crops compared to wild forage because of their higher nutritive content and palatability.
This sort of conflict is increasing every day.
There are forests being cut down, degraded, and also being fragmented by development like new roads and pipelines.
Elephants are huge – they are the biggest mammal on land and they have huge home ranges, around 800 sq km. Such huge unreserved forest tracts are becoming very rare.
In the end, humans always win, whatever the species, however powerful it is.
Proportionally, the elephant’s brain is the most sizeable, at a mass of just over 5kg and according to Elephants Forever, the need for such a large and complex organ becomes clear when we consider the behaviours and abilities of these animals.
Elephants are capable of such a wide range of complex emotions, including joy, playfulness, grief and mourning.
In addition, elephants are able to learn new facts and behaviours, mimic sounds they hear, self-medicate, perform artistic activities and display compassion and self-awareness.
It’s heart-breaking to see photos like this.