A photograph showing an elephant and its calf fleeing an angry mob has won the wildlife photography award for 2017 instituted by the Sanctuary Asia wildlife magazine.
The photograph titled ‘Hell is Here’ by Biplap Hazra was shot in West Bengal’s Bankura district, an area which sees large-scale man-animal conflict. It shows a mob hurling tar bombs and crackers at the elephants to ward the animals away from a human settlement which was nearby.
Describing the horror of the situation, the Sanctuary Nature Foundation, which awards the prize, had said, “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.”
Hazra, a brick kiln owner by profession, told The New Indian Express the calf “somehow survived” the attack. Crackers are burst and fires raged to ward off the herds, he said.
“The calf may not have been intentionally set on fire by the villagers living in the vicinity of the elephant corridor that stretches from southwestern West Bengal up to Saranda forest in Jharkhand, but bursting crackers and throwing fireballs on elephant herds has been a common practice in this part of West Bengal,” he said.
India is the “global stronghold” for the Asian elephant, with over 70 percent of the species’ global population residing in a handful of Indian states.
But, as the Foundation added, 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,” it said in the accompanying note.
The award winning picture titled ‘Hell is Here’. Courtesy: Biplap [email protected] Wildlife Photography Awards 2017