Man Taking Selfie With Two Elephants Trampled to Death

A 27-year-old man in southern India was trampled to death by a wild elephant as he attempted to take a selfie after spotting a pair of the animals while relieving himself near a hillock.

E. Ramkumar, from Kattu Kollai village in the Krishnagiri district of the state of Tamil Nadu, died on the spot from his injuries on Tuesday evening, the Times of India reported.

Forest officials were immediately called to the scene. One told local media that the two elephants had come out of the Palacode reserve forest when Ramkumar had tried to photograph them.

"Suddenly, one of the elephants charged at him and trampled him to death," they said.

Asian elephant
A photo of an Asian elephant in the Jim Corbett National Park in India. A 27-year-old man in southern India was trampled to death by a wild elephant as he attempted to take a selfie. AriImages/Getty

Elephants are the world's largest land mammal, although the Asian elephant is slightly smaller than its African cousin. According to the World Wildlife Fund, Asian elephants can grow to up to 11 feet tall, 21 feet long and weigh up to 5 tons.

Asian elephants are found throughout India and Southeast Asia, but roughly a third of their population live in captivity. According to National Geographic, only 20,000 to 40,000 Asian elephants are left in the wild. As a result, the species is classed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Asian elephant populations have declined by roughly 50 percent over the past 75 years, largely as a result of habitat loss caused by deforestation and the illegal animal trade. Because of habitat loss, wild elephants are often forced to seek food alternatives from farms and human settlements, which results in increased conflict between the animals and humans.

Elephants are usually peaceful creatures, but can become aggressive when they feel harassed, vulnerable or threatened. Approximately 500 people are killed by elephants every year in India alone, according to the country's Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Following Tuesday evening's tragedy, the local forest department has initiated an awareness drive about the dangers of getting too close to wild animals. As well as warning people not to venture into the forest in the evening and early morning, the department has advised against taking selfies or other photographs with the animals.

R. Krishnamoorthy, a local wildlife activist, told the Indian-Asian News Service: "People should not unnecessarily provoke wild animals. The case here of the young lad taking a selfie in front of two wild elephants is never acceptable. The elephant does not know whether the man was out to harm it or not, and naturally, its basic instinct will be to attack."