In this startling shot, an adult elephant and its baby are frightened and set ablaze as they struggle to flee a ball of flames. A throng of jeering guys in the distance has just thrown blazing tar balls and firecrackers at them.
Biplab Hazra captured this horrifying image in India’s Bankura area of West Bengal. Their shot, appropriately titled “Hell is Here,” was recently won first place in the Sanctuary Wildlife Photography Awards 2017.
“Hell is now and here for these brilliant, kind, gregarious animals who have roamed the subcontinent for millennia,” Sanctuary Asia, a well-established wildlife magazine headquartered in Mumbai, said in a statement accompanying the photos.
Fortunately, these couple of elephants escaped this useless attack. However, attacks on elephants and other huge creatures, such as one-horned rhinos, are surprisingly widespread in certain regions of India, including the states of Assam, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh. It’s also usual for humans to try to startle these magnificent beasts with pyrotechnics, tin drums, and harpoons.
India is home to more than 70% of the world’s Asian elephants. The IUCN Red List now classifies this species as “endangered.” Because of India’s rapidly growing human population, concerns such as habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation are becoming increasingly prevalent. Many of the elephants’ typical migratory patterns are being disrupted as a result of new infrastructure development, such as new roads or train lines.
This also leads to an increase in the number of encounters between humans and elephants, which frequently result in violence on the human side.
“The ignorance and bloodlust of mobs that attack herds for fun is compounded by the plight of those who actually suffer damage to land, life, and property by roaming elephants, and the utter indifference of the central and state governments to recognize the crisis that is at hand,” Sanctuary Asia said in a statement.
Some of the runners-up were similarly outstanding, displaying a wide spectrum of uncommon natural world sceneries. The remainder of the photographs may be seen in the Sanctuary Wildlife Photography Awards 2017 gallery on their website.