Elephants may be huge and could easily trample people to death but they are gentle, intelligent creatures who don’t really attack unless provoked. Sadly, many elephants are killed in the wild by people trying to get their tusks for ivory or for some other reason.
In West Bengal, India, a mob of angry people set a mother elephant and her calf on fire, hurling calls of flaming tar on the wild creatures. The pair could be seen running away from the people, with the calf crying out in confusion and pain while the angry mob jeered on and drove them away.
Photographer Biplab Hazra took a snapshot of the heartbreaking scene which would later win a top Asian wildlife photography award.
Sanctuary wildlife magazine ran a contest which was won by Hazra, using the photo he captioned, “Hell is here.”
“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,” Hazra explained.
What’s sad is that many elephants are killed in this district alone but more are being killed in other parts of India where 70% of the world’s population of Asian elephants live.
The mob was trying to ‘punish’ the elephants for eating their crops, something that the gentle creatures have taken to doing because the people are encroaching on the forests and the places where the wild creatures live.
“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,” explained Myanmar World Wildlife Fund country director Christy Williams.
And that’s the sad truth that the gentle creatures face each passing day. Too bad that humans are not just destroying these elephants’ homes but also killing them off for eating their crops!