No Country for Wild Elephants
In an instance of man-animal conflict stooping to inhumane grounds, a pregnant elephant died after receiving grave injuries when she bit into a fruit laden with a crude bomb
Try as one might and there can be no known fault of a mother fending for her unborn child so as to survive in this ever-changing, ever-surprising world, and yet, the brutality that she suffered led to the tragic end of her life, and her child’s. Indeed, the gut-wrenching and heart-breaking incident of a pregnant wild elephant becoming a victim of a crude country bomb in Palakkad district of Kerala has shaken the country to the core. It is quite ironic to see these very animal that is revered in Indian mythology and culture continues to be treated with such violence and injustice.
The 15 year old elephant was reportedly experiencing her first pregnancy when she left the Silent Valley National Park in search of food. When she bit into the seemingly harmless fruit in front of her, the crude “country bomb” embedded inside exploded inside her mouth, shattering her jaw and causing fatal injuries to her mouth, tongue and sensitive trunk, leaving her in senseless pain. In agony, she walked around for days, unable to eat because of her injuries. She eventually went to a river looking for relief from the excruciating pain, where she slowly sunk to her watery grave.
The crude country bomb that exploded inside the elephant’s mouth is a commonly used method by poachers and local farmers to kill wild pigs where the deadly bomb is packed with shrapnel of nails, metal pieces and pellets and then concealed inside a food bait which is usually jackfruit, pineapple, watermelon and such like fruits. Any unsuspecting animal that bites into the bait suffers an explosion inside its mouth usually instantly killing or maiming the animal. Sloth bears, elephants, deer and other animals fall prey to this bait. Killing elephants is a non-bailable offence and punishable with up to 7 years under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
Sadly, poachers use crop control as an excuse for setting these baited traps and often combine them with snares. Many elephants have had their trunks cut off in such snares. Despite a crop compensation scheme available from the state forest department, such crude and inhumane methods are still in use to kill wildlife on the pretext of crop protection.
Use of explosives, gun powder and such harmful chemicals are banned under Indian law. India has some strong acts and some of the most progressive wildlife protection laws in the world. However, in the absence of proper enforcement mechanisms in the field, laws remain powerful only on paper. The enforcement authorities need to implement the law and book people found buying, selling explosives and setting bombs and baited traps and snares to kill wild animals without exception. This will certainly help curtail such brutal poaching. We must also encourage awareness and education of humane methods to manage human-wildlife conflict, instead of ruthless revenge-killings.
One is faced with many such questions each time that an incident like this, this unforgivable act of cruelty occurs. It is time that we start focusing on the root cause of the problem – the production and sale of country bombs that put the wildlife of India under threat!
With better alternatives of mitigating the human-animal conflict, the unawareness and callous approach that people undertake leads to the death of the wild animals that look for survival, in this ever-urbanising world.
Join Wildlife SOS’ initiative and sign the petition to ban the sale, production and creation of locally-made explosives procured and hidden in fruits to harm the wild animals, and save the life of the voiceless!
– Demand a full investigation of the crime and prosecute those responsible.
– Enforce laws banning the use of explosives to control wildlife conflict.
– Stop the sale and purchase of materials used in the creation of locally-made explosives and home-made bombs.
– Encourage awareness and education of humane methods to manage human-wildlife conflict, instead of ruthless revenge-killings.