Animal Rights

Elephant Calf Dies a Day After Villagers Take Selfies With Him (Video)

Please people, stop taking selfies with wildlife.

Photo Credit: Nattaya Maneekhot/Shutterstock

Oh yes, prepare yourself—it’s another animal selfie death story. This one happened near India’s Omkar Forest Range in the Bandipur Forest Reserve. This time a baby elephant was the unfortunate victim of human stupidity.

Two adult elephants and a young calf wandered near the village of Kurubarahandi, India, in search of food. Their presence caused much excitement, with villagers shouting, waving sticks and making noise to drive the group away.

Villagers become animated when elephants approach because the gentle giants tend to destroy their rice paddies and eat their crops. When that happens, the farmers are often left with nothing. Farmers see it as a matter of survival.

When the villagers’ ruckus began, the adults got the message and moved away. The eight-month-old calf, however, wasn’t so lucky. He became separated from his mother in the confusion.

He began to cry while a mob of sightseers and villagers pulled out their mobile phones. The young elephant soon became the object of excited selfie-takers who surrounded him. He couldn’t get away to find his mother. The poor baby also apparently was injured, making him too weak to catch up with his adult companions.

Eventually, Indian forestry officials arrived and took charge of the calf. He was so upset they had to take him to a veterinarian. The vet bottle-fed the calf and gave him glucose. Forestry officials intended to take the calf back to the spot where he was separated from his mother as soon as he was well enough to return.

Sadly, despite the medical care, the poor calf died a few hours later. All that stress was apparently too much for the little guy. His mother returned to the village to look for him while he was with the veterinarian. Not finding him, she left and did not return.

We know elephants mourn their dead. Can you imagine the sadness this mother felt, knowing her baby was nowhere to be found? Can you imagine the fear that little calf experienced as loud humans surrounded him, snapping pictures and laughing?

Did those people crowding around the calf care that they were making the poor thing afraid? No, of course not. They just wanted their precious photos. They were looking for a good time.

The fact that it was at the expense of an innocent baby seems not to have entered their minds at all. And since he didn’t die at the scene, it’s not even clear if they know they are responsible for the little elephant’s demise.

I’d hoped 2018 might be a year without any horrific animal selfie stories. Unfortunately, my hope was regrettably short-lived. Here’s a resolution for the rest of the year—leave the animals alone.

Those animals are not there to give you an interesting selfie. Animal selfies need to stop being a “thing.” Let’s make animal protection our mantra from here on out.


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Susan Bird is a freelance writer and environmental attorney. Passionate about animals, Susan volunteers at animal- and veg-friendly events where she has been known to don a carrot costume. She’s a vegan, a yogi, a veteran, a bookworm and a Whovian. She lives in Saint Augustine, Florida.