An image of an elephant calf and an older elephant running from a crowd of angry people hurling flaming tar balls and crackers at them has won top entry in the Sanctuary Wildlife Photography Awards 2017, a pan-Asian wildlife photography competition.
The photograph is entitled ‘Hell is Here,’ and was taken by Biplab Hazra, a wildlife photographer from West Bengal.
It should be noted that some readers may find the following photo disturbing.
Sanctuary magazine said of the photo, before announcing it as a winner: “this sort of humiliation… is routine.”
The photo was taken in the Indian state of West Bengal’s Bankura district, an area that has seen many conflicts between elephants and humans as of late. Local news outlets report that there have been quite a few human deaths caused by encounters with elephants recently.
In an interview with Sanctuary, Hazra said that he recalls the calf screaming in “confusion” as it fled the attack.
Hazra added, “For these smart, gentle, social animals who have roamed the subcontinent for centuries, hell is now and here.”
According to the caption under the photograph on Sanctuary’s website, this sort of human-elephant conflict is routine and seems to come from the fact that vital elephant habitats and routes are being ravaged by encroaching civilization.
The caption under the photo on Sanctuary’s online site concludes with a statement that explains clearly the photograph’s title: For these smart, gentle, social animals who have roamed the sub-continent for centuries, hell is now and here.
The Asian elephant has been listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List since 1986. India boasts 70% of the global population of Asian elephants.
Generally speaking, Asian elephants are peaceful animals. But females travelling with calves or rogue elephants should be avoided at all costs.
Between 1980 and 2003, over 1150 humans and 370 elephants died as a result of the human-elephant conflict.
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