A peaceful elephant road crossing would have stayed so had a man not been trampled by one of the herd. The man would have been alive had he – and scores of others – not shouted, heckled and honked. The ruckus disturbed the giant mammals and one of them lost his – or her – cool leading to the tragedy.
The video embedded here was a WhatsApp forward and there did not seem reason to doubt its authenticity. The message included the location: National Highway 37 near Marangi Tea Estate in Golaghat district of Assam in northeastern India. Watch it – but you are being alerted to disturbing imagery.
Cases of man (induced) – animal conflicts continue to be on the rise, all avoidable. It is bad enough to have cleared forests to feed our desire for a cuppa of tea; what’s worse is we don’t let the remaining animals roam and live peacefully. Humans have believed – and continue to – that they are supreme and all of nature is theirs to own, exploit and consume without any responsibility to do so sustainably.
I shared the above video on social media; what followed was mob justice. Most commentors had no sympathy for the man, saying he deserved it. Some wished more or all of the crowd had been meted out the same treatment. For me, the trauma of the elephants was disturbing but I did not wish death or injury to anyone, even if they had it coming.
What did I read into all this? The reaction on social media showed a barbaric mindset to address the issue at hand. But what these same ‘judges’ do not realize is that they can well be next to suffer. Because we are all guilty of abusing nature, directly or indirectly. If any of these commentors were to meet with a fate similar to the man in the video, should we say you deserved it? How many more wake-up calls do we need about the importance of caring for and restoring the planet’s health, a task where each of us has to be a part of?
P.S. The man who was trampled upon seemed a poor, lesser-educated man. The people who commented were the relatively better-off elites from the cities – as would most of the readers of this article be. How will the latter react if, God forbid, it happens to one of ‘us’?