"Hell Is Here" is the title of Biplab Hazra's photograph of a burning elephant calf that got him this year's Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Award from Sanctuaryasia.com, which describes itself as India's leading nature and wildlife conservation portal.
The picture was taken in the Bankura district of West Bengal, a state in eastern India. According to Sanctuary Asia, "This sort of humiliation is routine, as it is in the other elephant-range states of Assam, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu. India is the world’s stronghold for the Asian elephant and boasts over 70 percent of the global population of the species."
With around one elephant per every four square miles in West Bengal, clashes with the human population are a frequent occurrence.
Further, Sanctuary elaborates on the issue: "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 recognize the crisis that is at hand. For these smart, gentle, social animals who have roamed the sub-continent for centuries, hell is now and here."
Photo by Biplab Hazra