A photo showing a panicked elephant and her baby calf trying to flee a mob of people in West Bengal’s Bankura district has won the Sanctuary Wildlife Photography Awards this year.
Photographed by Biplab Hazra, the powerful photograph titled "Hell Is Here" shows an elephant calf on fire as he tries to flee a mob with his mother after being attacked by flaming tar balls and crackers as a soundtrack of human laughter and shouts follow.
Sanctuary Asia, a Facebook page uploaded the award-winning photograph and wrote, "The heat from the fire scorches their delicate skin as mother and child attempt to flee the mob. In the lead, the cow’s expansive ears are angled forward as she stoicly ignores the crowd of jeering men. Behind her, her calf screams in confusion and fear as the fire licks at her feet. Flaming tar balls and crackers fly through the air to a soundtrack of human laughter and shouts. 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."
The post further adds, "India is the world’s stronghold for the Asian elephant and boasts over 70 per cent 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. 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. For these smart, gentle, social animals who have roamed the sub-continent for centuries, hell is now and here."
Awarded by Sanctuary Nature Foundation, a conservation nonprofit from Mumbai, the Sanctuary Wildlife Photography Awards is India's longest-running and prestigious initiative of its kind. This year, the Photography Awards drew over 5,000 entries from across Asia, beating all previous records, TOI reported.
Biplab Hazra's heart-breaking photo of an elephant and a calf escaping a mob in West Bengal is a searing testimony of human monstrosity. pic.twitter.com/NDhL9lMH6K— Anupam Bordoloi (@asomputra) November 6, 2017