Human-animal conflict is not a new phenomenon. It’s a centuries old phenomenon. However, in recent times it has increased due to ruthless destruction of forest and natural habitats for industrialisation. When natural habitats fall short, animals often come out in the open. This leads to conflict.
Under such circumstances, humans would often blame the animals as transgressors. Since the animals can’t represent themselves in the so called prime time debate chambers, they cannot defend themselves. The truth is that humans encroach their land, deforest them and settle down. As soon as they take possession of the land, they believe it is their own. However, animals do not have such legal system of tenancy rights. Therefore, they lack ownership rights in the so called ‘civilized’ world order.
I must give some leeway to the human beings also. In a conflict situation, animals are not only sufferers. Humans also suffer from the violence wreaked by wild animals. Particularly, the rampant violence and destruction wreaked by wild elephants are infamous near elephant reserves. Moreover, the wild boars, moles and elephant are notoriously known for destroying crops and fields.
However, the recent incident of death of a pregnant elephant from cracker burst has invoked an emotional outburst across the nation. Apparently, a wild elephant left silent valley forest and wandered into a nearby village in search of food. She ate a pineapple filled with powerful crackers, which was allegedly offered by a man. The fruit exploded in her mouth when she chomped on it, breaking her jaw completely. She then entered the Velliyar river in Mallapuram, standing in the water for hours. The elephant then died several hours later, despite efforts to rescue.
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Well, the heartbreaking depiction of the incident by a Forest Department official on a facebook post is undoubtedly heart-wrenching. Anybody who is not moved by this shocking incidence, cannot be human with all emotions. He/she must be made of some different elements.
The investigation is on. There are theories floating about the incidence. Some claim that the elephant was intentionally fed; some others say that it was unintentional. An Indian Forest Service Officer (name removed on request), while interviewed by International Business Times, India opined that no one might have fed the pineapple to the elephant. He commented that pineapples filled with crackers are used as a snare for catching wild boars. He said, “ No one would have fed the pineapple to the elephant. The animal must have found it lying somewhere and must have consumed it herself not knowing what lies ahead for her.” He added that wild boars often spoil crops and people use snares as a way to protect their farms and crops..
It may be a case. It is rather hard to believe that a human being would take sadistic pleasure by killing an innocent pregnant elephant. But, even if it is true then also it cannot justify the act. It is a fact that the wild boars are annoying in terms of their destroying the crops. However, is it justified to kill them this way? My conscience says that punishment should be in proportion to crime. A severe punishment for small crimes and a small punishment for severe crimes are equally unjust acts. No animal deserve such barbaric treatment for eating up some crops. Yes, destruction of crops is an issue. But, that can be tackled in a better way. They can be managed through small scale trapping, trapping and shooting. But, mischievous tactics like cracker feeding is extremely abhorrent. This kind of activity does not befit human stature. Whether intentional or unintentional is, therefore, out of the purview of discussion in my opinion. I apologise to the innocent soul with folded hands for intentional or unintentional fault of mankind. Her innocence, calm and composure will go into the pages of history as against humankind’s unruly ruthlessness.