Photo of Burning Elephant and Calf Wins Photography Award

Burning elephant

The picture of India is often incomplete without elephants, at least in the minds of people who have never been to the country that is diverse in every way possible. But elephants do represent one of the most beautiful things about India. Why, then, did a photo of a mob that set an adult elephant and a calf on fire win a major award?

Burning elephant

The photo, named “Hell is Here” was taken in the eastern Indian region of West Bengal, in the Bankura district, where such man-elephant conflicts are not uncommon. The photographer, Biplab Hazra, has been recognized for the shot, which was declared the winner of the Sanctuary Wildlife Photography Awards 2017.

Why would anyone award such horrific imagery? Because the government will do nothing to intervene. Perhaps it is the only option left.

In a note accompanying the photo, the magazine said:

“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 recognize the crisis that is at hand.”

And that’s the essence of the problem. The magazine highlighting this photo is an act of awareness, and the local and central governments will hopefully sit up, take notice and do something about this sort of incident.

On the plus side, there has been some sort of action taken by forest officials in the Bankura district. They’re now sending text alerts about the movement of these gentle giants in an effort to prevent such conflict. 29 human deaths from man-elephant conflicts were recorded last year. But enough is not being done to address the issue. Text alerts merely help alleviate the problem to a small degree.

India has about 70 percent of the world’s Asian elephant population, and are used for everything from temple festivals to clearing forest areas.

In closing, the magazine notes:

“For these smart, gentle, social animals who have roamed the sub-continent for centuries, hell is now and here.”

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