We all were heartbroken to hear about the female elephant that was ‘fed’ pineapple filled with firecrackers, they got exploded in her mouth and she succumbed to the injuries. To add up to the tragedy, later postmortem reports showed that she was pregnant. It’s insane to torture animals whichever is the method, it’s insane that somebody could come up with such an idea.. BUT, later it was found that those pineapples weren’t actively “fed” to the elephant, they were meant for something else. They were kept as a snare to shoo away/attack/scare the wild boars and other animals who damaged the crops, the elephant just happened to have come across them (read the report here).
Now the questions that I have are:
Why do people have so much against wild animals that attack their lands? Whose land is it anyway? Who actually hijacked it, common people, corporations or greed and ambitions of human race? Is it okay if the wild boars get injured the same way as the elephant? Would we feel similar remorse? Do wild boar’s lives matter? Are there any provisions for elephants (or any animals) to get proper and safe access to food? What if a human child had come across that pineapple snare? Should we feel the same amount of pain or we’d first check the background status of the child and then decide how to respond? And most importantly, who gets to decide whose life matters more?
Do we really care about animals?
Not really. We only care about the momentary adrenaline that rushed through our veins when we heard that “sansani khabar” (Oh my God! How can someone do such a thing to the poor elephant? People are so cruel!) Earlier this year, it was reported that government is soon going to permit farmers with licensed firearms to shoot the wild boars and other animals who wander into their lands. There have been several incidents when tigers, leopards and other animals have fallen prey to haphazardly placed snares around farms and even wildlife corridors.
Do we pay any mind to what will happen to the wildlife when the mining and industrial projects will be run in the Western Ghats–one of the most bio-diverse places in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site? Do we know how much we’re loosing because of the illegal mining in Dehing-Patkai (Assam) which also has Dibru-Deomali, an “elephant” reserve? Do we even know that 2.7 lakh trees will be felled in Arunachal Pradesh’s Dibang Valley for a hydropower project?
It’s a fact that people love violence. It’s just that the half of us don’t like to actively participate in violence, we just like to hear the story afterwards – the more the gore, the quicker we respond.
The whole incident reminds me of the recent webinar arranged by ISPP on Healthcare infrastructure and policy. One of the speakers, SY Quraishi (former Chief election commissioner of India) gave an example of public reaction on a similar ground.
They all had gathered for some conference related to children’s welfare, where a few socially woke artists were also present. He decided to conduct an experiment. He told people in the conference that around 300 children died in a blast in Syria’, and observed their responses.
Obviously people got panicked and were shocked to hear this, expressed their grief, and frantically took out their phones to maybe tweet or to search more info.. Mr. Quraishi then told them, it hadn’t happened that day, he just wanted to see their reactions.
Then he said these many kids die almost daily in India because of starvation, malnutrition, even a minor illness because there is no all accessible public health infrastructure. But we don’t pay attention to these news – mostly they don’t even get reported. It’s almost as if it’s okay or just normal to die of hunger..
Whenever we hear about incidents like what happened to the elephant, we don’t like to give it a minute and actually think about it, or try to find out the factors responsible, or take an initiative to solve the problems. We only pop our eyes out when we hear about one heartbreaking incident, which is actually the tip of the iceberg, and then move on. The problem remains unsolved.
PS: In a parallel world, when the teacher will ask "Who is the strongest animal on the earth?" the student from any of the marginalized community would answer with "elephant, because it could melt hearts of millions of Indians and even celebrities who don't bat an eyelid when human beings get murdered in broad daylight in the name of gender, caste, religion, 'honor'.."