Animal cruelty is at a rife these days and it is appalling to see how the harmless creatures are being disturbed by some of our kind for no valid reason. A photo of an adult elephant and its calf being set on fire by a vicious mob, and behind its success in winning a top Asian wildlife photography award is the harsh reality that humans, who are supposed to preserve them, are taking methods to take them down.
The photo was taken by Biplab Hazra in the Bankura district of West Bengal. The photographer titled the image “Hell is Here” which literally describes how the human-elephant conflict in the area has escalated to a deadly battle between people and animals. People captured in the photo where hurling flaming balls of tar and crackers to two elephants that are trying to run away from the angry crowd.
A photo captured how an angry mob in India burned two elephants that were running in distress.
The heart-breaking photo caught the attention of many during the photo contest ran by the Sanctuary wildlife magazine. Biplab Hazra also shared more of the story behind the photo revealing the calf was screaming in ‘confusion’ as it fled the “crowd of jeering men” when the image was captured. Biplab said:
“For these smart, gentle, social animals who have roamed the subcontinent for centuries, hell is now and here.
The sad scene was captured by photographer Biplab Hazra who then won a photo contest.
The Sanctuary Asia’s Facebook page shared the photo and took the opportunity to impart an important message writing:
“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.”
The photographer also described the pain that the elephant was probably in while he was taking the horrifying photo.
A huge percentage of Asian elephants live in India at 70 percent. However the conflict between these animals and the locals results to up to 300 human deaths and 50 elephant deaths per year. This war roots from crop raiding where elephants prefer feeding on crops planted by locals because of their higher nutrient content and palatability.
World Wildlife Fund country director in Myanmar, Christy Williams, who researches elephants in the region, said about the conflict:
“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.”
Elephants are soft and sociable animals so it is sad to see humans and these creatures in a battle against each other.
It is indeed heart-breaking to see photos of cruelty between animals and humans. The elephants have sizeable brains at over 5 kilograms and are capable of learning new facts, adapting new behaviors, can mimic sounds they hear, are able to self-medicate, perform artistic activities, display compassion and self-awareness. Furthermore, they too have emotions including joy, playfulness, grief and mourning.
Their are organizations working to put solution to the conflict happening between people and animals.
The Born Free Foundation is now working to improve issues related to the human-wildlife conflict happening in the country and the world. And for us humans who have better understanding at things, let us resort to non-violent measures that will both protect our interests and the lives of animals.