One thing I can’t abide is cruelty to animals – which is why the images I’m about to show you really upset me, and could upset you too (fair warning).
A set of horrific pictures have emerged that show residents of a village in India firebombing a mother elephant and her small young calf after the animals wandered onto their farmland.
While these photographs have been taken over the course of a few years, they accurately document the growing unrest between local residents and the elephant population, which has been driven out of their natural habitats, due to man-made factors like deforestation.
The photographs were taken in West Bengal by photographer Biplab Hamza, and demonstrate the shocking lengths that some residents will go to in order to stop the elephants damaging their crops and property.
The mother and her small calf can be seen running across a road to avoid the flames from the firebombs being hurled at them by a gang of locals. Others can be seen chucking stones at them.
Although elephants are very large and tough, there is no question that these actions are extremely dangerous, and put the lives of these beautiful creatures in danger.
It’s not just elephants who wander onto farmland either. In some cases, the elephants are attacked in their natural habitat. A number of heartbreaking photos have also been released of elephants struggling to cross a railway line that has been built right through their home. The elephants know the crossing is dangerous, but they have no choice – their natural roaming grounds are being gradually destroyed.
Incidents such as the ones captured in these photographs are tragically becoming more and more common, as elephants come into contact with villagers and their property more often, due to having fewer and fewer safe places to roam.
These pictures really demonstrate the worst side of humanity, and it breaks my heart to see these awe-inspiring creatures running scared.
The photographer Biplab hopes that his photographs will raise awareness of the plight of the elephants, and cause the authorities to take whatever action necessary. He said: “This happens because the villagers have to save their crops. There many elephant corridors in human habitations.
“I try to show and spread my photos to increase public awareness on the matter.”
Sanctuary Asia spoke out on the incidents, making it clear that this was not a one-off. “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 and boasts over 70 percent of the global population of the species. But this achievement rings hollow as vital elephant habitats and routes continue to be ravaged, and human-elephant conflict escalates to a fatal degree.”
Their statement continued: “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.
“For these smart, gentle, social animals who have roamed the sub-continent for centuries, hell is now and here.”
Elephants have always been one of my favorite animals, and this story really upset me. Thankfully, there are organisations such as India’s Elephant Hospital which we also wrote about recently. I just hope this doesn’t keep happening.