India’s Human-Elephant Conflict Reaches a New Low in Viral Video

As the human population in Southeast Asia continues to expand, conflicts between humans and elephants, who have coexisted for a long time, are becoming more frequent.

Image: Biplab Hazra via YouTube

As the human population in Southeast Asia continues to grow, conflicts between humans and elephants, who have long coexisted, are on the rise.

Unfortunately, this kind of violence is becoming more typical in countries like India, where nearly two-thirds of the world’s Asian elephants live. Combine that with an exploding human population, and you’ve got trouble.Elephants are foragers, typically migrating for long distances in search of food and eating up to 700 pounds of vegetation each day. But with much of their habitats being converted to farmland and man-made barriers like highways disrupting their established migration routes, the animals are increasingly finding themselves in human territory.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

These giant pachyderms regularly raid crops and destroy property as they make their way through villages. And, despite their gentle reputation, encounters with humans can sometimes be deadly — up to 300 people are killed by elephants in India each year, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature.

The damage can be costly and residents often retaliate by killing rogue elephants or trying to ward them off with fire, which may have been the case in the photo.

“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,” reads the caption accompanying the image, taken by photographer Biplab Hazra.

“For these smart, gentle, social animals who have roamed the sub-continent for centuries, hell is now and here.”

The video below was taken during a similar incident, in which members of a village in India came out to harass the herd of elephants:

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