Heartbreaking Photo Of Elephant Mom And Calf Fleeing Fire-Throwing Mob Wins Top Prize

A heartbreaking image of an adult elephant and her calf escaping a fire-throwing mob has won the top Asian wildlife photography prize.

The award-winning photograph shows a mom and her baby elephant running with a crowd that tossed flaming balls of tar and crackers at them as an attempt to keep them away from human settlements.

870532822 Three Asian elephants wave their trunks as they wait to be fed at Berlin Zoologischer garten zoo on November 5, 2017. JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images

The picture titled “Hell is here,” was taken by Biplab Hazra, a photographer from West Bengal state. Hazra won the 2017 Sanctuary’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year award from the Sanctuary Foundation because of the heart-wrenching photo.

“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 Sanctuary Foundation said in a statement.

Christy Williams, country director in Maymar of the World Wildlife fund who researches elephants, added that elephants are being pushed out of their habitats because of human behavior.

“There are forests being cut down, degraded, and also being fragmented by development like new roads and pipelines,” Williams told The Guardian.

Currently, India is the home to around 300,000 Asian elephants, with 70 percent of the world's population. There are around 800 in West Bengal.

Elephants and residents in India have had a long, complicated history. In August, an elephant was shot to death after killing 15 people in Bihar state. The state’s chief forest and wildlife conservator, LR Singh, said something needed to be done.

“Villagers are living in fear, especially the Paharia tribe that lives ... where the elephant roams,” said Singh, referring to one of the poor tribal communities in eastern India.

There have been an estimated 1,100 people who have died nationwide from elephant or tiger attacks in the past three years. Over the same period, National Geographic reported that 100,000 elephants have been killed by humans.

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