In Odisha, rapid urbanization, mining and industry, expansion of linear infrastructure and fragmented habitats have sent Elephants into a growing conflict with humans over the last several years.
A total of 282 Elephants died in Odisha from 2018 through August 31, 2021, the state’s forest minister Bikaram Keshari Arukha said. The highest number of Elephant deaths (93) took place in 2018-19, followed by 82 in 2019-20, 77 in 2020-21 and 30 till end of August this year.
As many as 43 of the Elephants were electrocuted, seven were killed by poachers, 13 were hit by trains, four in road accidents and 59 died in other accidents. The rest succumbed to infections — 18 died of anthrax, six of herpes and 77 of other diseases. As many as 34 Elephants died of natural causes and 21 due to unknown reasons.
The eastern state had 1,976 Elephants in 2017, according to the last census. This was an improvement from 1954 in 2015 and 1930 in 2012, the minister noted at the state assembly.
“Odisha’s forest and environment department has selected 14 traditional Elephant corridors in the state for smooth movement of the Elephants,” he added.
The Minister also informed that the state lost 17 Leopards in this period which included two Royal Bengal Tigers, killed in electrocution and disease separately in 2018-19. Five Leopards were killed in poaching. The Special Task Force of Odisha Police, State Forest department as well as the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau have seized at least 29 Leopard skins since April 2020. Nine Leopard skins were seized by Forest officials in Kalahandi alone in July this year.
The number of Leopards in the state, however, more than doubled to 760 in that period, according to the NTCA report released December 21, 2020.
‘Leopards occupy areas vacated by Tigers and this is one of the main reasons behind the increasing Leopard population in the state, according to LA Singh, former wildlife research officer of Similipal Tiger Reserve.
Leopards also breed more often than Tigers and can survive in almost any type of habitat and need less space, he added. Tigers, the biggest of the big cats, thrive in larger forest expanses, said the expert.
To curb poaching of wild animals, the State Government has formed anti-poaching and anti-smuggling squads in the sensitive areas.
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The use of elephants in the tourism industry has become incredibly popular. Vacations boasting everything from a chance to ride on an elephant, to seeing them paint, or even getting a massage from an elephant have popped up all across Asia. While these might appear to be fun activities for you and your family, the reality is that the experience is anything but for the elephants.
Although elephants are incredibly intelligent and docile by nature, there is very little about the behaviors exhibited by captive elephants in the tourism industry that is natural. To get these wild animals to interact with humans, they must undergo an extraordinarily cruel breaking process, called “Phajaan,” that renders them submissive to their human trainers.
Breaking Baby Elephants Baby elephants are taken from their mothers at a very young age, usually three to six years old, but often younger. After a young elephant is in the captivity of its handlers, the aim of the Phajaan program is to break its spirit. Babies will be kept in small crates similar to those found in the intensive pig farming industry. Their feet will be tied with ropes, their limbs will be stretched, they will be repeatedly beaten with sharp metal and other tools, they will be constantly yelled and screamed at, and they will be starved of food. Bull hooks (a tool used in most forms of elephant control) will be used to stab the head, slash the skin and tug the ears.
The next time you see an Asian elephant used in trekking, elephant rides, movies, in a circus or any other form of entertainment, take a look at the state of its ears. Captive elephants often have shredded or torn ears from their tissue being ripped and pulled away in the training process. They also often have scars on their foreheads from deep lacerations caused by beatings.
Ropes are used to tie and stretch the elephant’s limbs, these will eventually be replaced with tight, constricting chains. The Phajaan may last for weeks and they have no rest from physical torture and mental domination. Gradually, their spirits break and their handlers achieve control.
The “Bond” Between Trainer and Elephant Traditionally in Eastern Asia, a mahout will be sole charge of a single elephant. As a mahout ages, his elephant is passed down through his family line. An elephant’s mahout will not be involved in the physical abuse during Phajaan. In the final stage of the Phajaan, the elephant’s mahout will bring the animal its first meal with water, and will be the one to “release” the elephant and lead it away from the crate. After weeks of torture, of mental and emotional abuse, of loneliness, confusion and
separation, the elephant sees this human figure as its savior – the one it trusts. This is just another stage of mental and emotional manipulation, of course, but it is how a particular mahout gains such immense control over its animal.
This video illustrates the cruelty of this process. We will warn you, it is graphic.
What You Can Do Getting the chance to interact with a baby elephant might seem like an incredible experience, but given the immense cruelty and abuse that that elephant has to endure for these interactions, is it really worth it? Asian elephants are highly endangered animals and are often targeted by poachers who capture them from the wild and sell them into the tourism industry. By visiting attractions that feature captive elephants and paying to ride or interact with one, you become complicit in this injustice.
We can all help to end this cruelty by boycotting tourism attractions that feature captive elephants. If you are headed to Thailand and want to experience elephants in a humane way, check out elephant sanctuaries like Elephant Nature Park or Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary. These organizations are helping to spread the truth about the cruelty inherent in elephant tourism while providing a sanctuary for animals who have been rescued from such attractions.
But remember, these elephants would not need to be in sanctuaries if the elephant tourism industry didn’t exist so please share this knowledge with others so we can see the cruelty against elephants end, once and for all.
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Born from a passion for wildlife, and decades of experience living & working in East Africa, The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards began its life modestly in 2015 as a photographic competition.
Since then, steered by its founders, Paul Joynson-Hicks MBE and Tom Sullam, it has grown into a globally renowned competition seen by millions of people every year, and always with wildlife conservation at its heart.
The free competition, open to wildlife photography experts and novices, celebrates the hilarity of our natural world and highlights what we need to do to protect it. From a surprised otter to a swearing turtle, Comedy Wildlife’s photographs transcend cultures and ages to bring a smile to everyone’s face.
Find out more about the Comedy Wildlife mission HERE.
#1 Time For School
“A smooth-coated otter “bit” its baby otter to bring it back to and fro for its swimming lessons” Cleo Kee Teo.
Michelle Wood, who is part of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards team said “The uniqueness of Comedy Wildlife compared to other photography competitions is the comedy aspect which can be a split-second decision to push the button at the right time,” she said. “We would probably say it’s a good idea to take your camera or camera phone with you whenever you are out and about, just in case that special moment arises,” she suggested always being ready to capture some amazing shots.
“And you have to be patient, very, very patient. Wildlife photography involves a lot of waiting around, Comedy Wildlife photography even more!! But the competition is free and so it is always worth entering your photo or video. By getting involved with the competition, even buying a print or calendar, you are directly helping us support our conservation charity and highlight our message, which is at the heart of the Awards.
#2 I Guess Summer’s Over
“I was taking pics of pigeons in flight when this leaf landed on birds face” John Speirs.
#3 Ninja Prairie Dog!
“When this Bald Eagle missed on its attempt to grab this prairie dog, the prairie dog jumped towards the eagle and startled it long enough to escape to a nearby burrow. A real David vs Goliath story!” Arthur Trevino.
According to Michelle, how the Awards decide on what charity to support each year depends on a variety of factors. “We look at a range of factors, including sustainability, reach, location, species, long term goals. Save Wild Orangutans is an amazing initiative, set up by the Gunung Palung program helping the local population live and work in harmony with the Orangutan population and their habitat. We all share this world and have to work together to preserve it. This charity aligns with our core conservation message and we will do everything we can to shine a light on their work, through coverage of the competition.”
The Category and Overall Winners of the competition will be announced on the 22nd of October, and I can’t wait to see who takes the cake (and our hearts). In the meantime, the 2021 competition finalists will be exhibited at The Photography Show in Birmingham.
#4 Did I Say You Could Take My Picture?
“I followed this Ruby-Crowned Kinglet for about 15 minutes as it hopped from one branch to another in fast succession. I think it knew I was following it because, all of a sudden, it just stopped and stared at me for all of about 3 seconds!” Patrick Dirlam.
“I was photographing a group of goslings for a while when one broke away from the pack. It hid behind the leg of a bench for a few seconds before poking its little head out to say hello.” Charlie Page.
#6 Monday Morning Mood
“I took this shot while photographing a group of Pied starlings perched in a tree at the Rietvlei Nature Reserve in South Africa. It perfectly sums up my mood on most Monday mornings :)” Andrew Mayes.
The finalists include 42 images, plus the Portfolio and Video category entries. 2021’s shortlist showcases the biggest mix of animals seen in the competition so far. The Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards team notes that among the entries are a laughing vine snake from India, a trio of strutting Gentoo penguins on the beaches of the Falkland Islands, and a Kangaroo performing a picture-perfect Pavarotti impersonation in Australia.
In a press release, Paul, the co-founder of the competition, said that the team has been overwhelmed with the number and quality of the entries they received this year. A whopping 7k photos were submitted to the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards for consideration from every single corner of the globe.
“It was an amazing turnout, especially given the impact of the pandemic. The huge number of images we receive every year illustrates the appetite there is to engage with conservation and reminds us that wildlife truly is incredible and hilarious and, we must do all we can to protect it,” Paul said.
#7 Don’t Worry. Be Happy!
A Dragonfly early in the morning on a flower looks into my camera and it seems as if it laughing. The year 2020/2021 was very hard for everybody because of Corona. But when you go outside and watch carefully the Beauty of our nature, then problems seems to get less for me. So if I have a bad day this image make me give a smile back” Axel Bocker.
#8 Quarantine Life
“Isolated inside with your family eager to get out and explore the world? These eastern raccoon kits are too. Just when you think there’s no more room in the tree hollow, mother raccoon appears and displays just how compact the space is. The babies clambered all over their mom and each another, struggling to take a look at the exact same time. This photo was taken in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. After exploring a particular area with numerous tree hallows, I identified it as a hot spot for raccoon families. Since raccoons will move from den to den, often not spending more than one night at a time in a particular den, locating an area with numerous options is key to locating the animals. I stumbled across this family and immediately worked on leveling the camera with the hole to prevent an upward angle. When the camera and tripod were ready, the baby raccoons were extremely curious (and cooperative), sticking their heads out for a closer look!” Kevin Biskaborn.
#9 Mr. Giggles
“Grey seal pup appears to be giggling. I loved the expression captured. It looks so human-like. I was lying on a rocky beach for hours, as motionlessly as possible, patiently waiting for seal life to unfold around me. This seal pup came onto the shore for a bit of rest and ended up sleeping on its chosen rock for hours before the incoming tide forced it to move more inland. Occasionally, it would stretch and yawn and it was one of the yawns that led to this expression, looking as if the seal was giggling.” Martina Novotna.
#10 See Who Jumps High
Chu Ha Lin.
#11 Draw Me Like One Of Your French Bears
“This young Kodiak Brown Bear sauntered down the riverbed and stopped across from me. She proceeded to start making herself a bear bed pulling back the sand with her gigantic claws. Once she had her bed just how she wanted it she laid down, rolled over on her back and started smiling and me! And she didn’t stop smiling! I would have to say she was the most provacative bear I had ever seen!” Wenona Suydam.
#12 Majestic And Graceful Bald Eagle
“Bald Eagles will use the same nest for years, even decades, adding new material to it at the beginning and throughout the nesting season. Normally, they are highly skilled at snapping branches off of trees while in flight. Possibly tired from working nonstop all morning on a new nest, this particular Bald Eagle wasn’t showing its best form. Yes, sometimes they miss. Although this looks painful, and it might very well be, the eagle recovers with just a few sweeping wing strokes, and choses to rest a bit before making another lumber run.” David Eppley.
The photographer who took the overall best picture will win a one-week safari with Alex Walker’s Serian in the Masai Mara, in Kenya, as well as a unique handmade trophy from the Art Garage in Dar es Salaam, in Tanzania.
A panel of experts will judge the finalists, and it’s quite an impressive turnout! The panel includes wildlife photographers Daisy Gilardini, Tom Laman, and Will Burrand-Lucas, travel editor Neil Stevenson, TV presenter Kate Humble, actor and comedian Hugh Dennis, co-founder of The Born Free Foundation Will Travers OBE, Managing Director of Serif, developer of award sponsor Affinity Photo Ashley Hewson, ThinkTank’s Simon Pollock, image expert Celina Dunlop, Amazing Internet’s Andrew Skirrow, and Bella Lack, the “formidable ambassador for conservation.
#13 Operatic Warm UPS
“The kangaroo looked like he was singing ‘the hills are alive, with the sound of music’ in the field.” Lea Scaddan.
#14 Dancing Away To Glory
“A young langur sways its body to give an impression that its dancing.” Sarosh Lodhi.
“Males of these species of lizard chooses higher elevations to monitor their territory and display. Caught this particular male roosting on the twig of a bush during high heat summer.” Aditya Kshirsagar.
#16 Before And After Coffee
“Baby Great Horned Owl shows human-like reaction as one wakes up before coffee and after having a cup. I was avidly watching the two cute owlets in the nest, hoping it would wake up and move. It took a pretty long time, as both babies were too sleepy and were nuzzling each other, sleeping with mouths open. When one finally started to stir, this is what I saw. It is too precious, half opening both eyes, opening one and finally both eyes looking like it was startled.” Nat Tan.
“A golden silk monkey in Yunnan China – this is actually a show of aggression however in the position that the monkey is in it looks quite painful!” Ken Jensen.
#18 We’re Too Sexy For This Beach
“I was lying on the beach during a stretch of fair weather at Volunteer Point in East Falkland, just waiting to capture a Gentoo Penguin jumping out of the surf to land on the beach. To my delight, a trio emerged from the water and walked straight in my direction. I really enjoyed photographing this moment as it seems to capture some sassy personality displayed by these individuals” Joshua Galicki.
#19 The Butt Dunk / The Face Plant / The Shake Off / The Final Scratch
“An elephant expresses his joy in taking a mud bath against the dead trees on the shores of Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe on a hot afternoon.” Vicki Jauron
#20 How Do You Get That Damn Window Open?
“This raccoon spends his time trying to get into houses out of curiosity and perhaps also to steal food” Nicolas de Vaulx.
#21 Laughing Snake
“Vine snakes are very commonly seen snakes in western ghats of India. When approached they show aggression by opening their mouth wide open. Nothing to scare of this beautiful harmless Vine snake.I was happy to find it and smiling and It looks like he was smiling back at me.” Aditya Kshirsagar.
#22 Smoked Deer For Dinner
“I have been following the family of a tigress called Paaro in India’s Jim Corbett National Park for many years. This is her daughter who has stood on her hind limbs to be able to scratch her face with a log. But, it appears as if she is carrying the log on her shoulders.” Siddhant Agrawal.
#23 Let’s Dance
“Two Kamchatka bear cubs square up for a celebratory play fight having successfully navigated a raging torrent (small stream!)” Andy Parkinson.
#24 The Green Stylist
“I spent my days in my usual “gopher place” and yet again, these funny little animals haven’t belied their true nature.” Roland Krenitz.
#26 Foot Jam
“There is a great big pine tree with a small to medium sized hole in it near my house where a young racoon has called this home for the past year. Well this year it appears that the little racoon has outgrown it’s tiny home as it barely fits!” Brook Burling.
#27 Directing Penguin
“Two Gentoo penguins having a discussion after coming out of the surf” Carol Taylor.
#28 Monkey Riding A Giraff
“During a game drive we found a group of monkeys playing around with each other, jumping up and down from a bare branch.It was a joy to watch. After a while I saw a giraffe coming from the right. By the moment the giraffe did pass the branch, one of the monkeys was on his post to ride the giraffe :-)” Dirk-Jan Sttehouwer.
“This Proboscis monkey could be just scratching its nose on the rough bark, or it could be kissing it. Trees play a big role in the lives of monkeys. Who are we to judge…” Jakub Hodan.
#30 Are You Talking To Me? / Big Smile / Fluff / Lol
“While trying to make proper pictures with flash I visited two groups of wild horses for two years. Every now and then they didn’t try to eat my flashes or run over the stands and they posed for me.” Edwin Smith.
#31 Shhhh! I’m So Hungover It Hurts
“Burrowing owl youngsters are so amusing to watch. This burrowing owl caught my eye because he looked like he a hangover.” Anita Ross.
#32 The Photo-Bombing Wave
“Polar Bear mom and cubs frolicked in the icy waters of the Arctic. They kept dipping under the water and once came up together with this amusing pose. A tender moment is shared by mom and one cub while the other photo-bombs with a wave to the onlookers. Or, it sure looked like a wave…..” Cheryl Strahl.
#33 Yes, I Did It
“A frog climbed a flower from a plant, and when he made it to the end he laughed celebrating his success” Dieky Oesin.
#34 Leaning Post
“A young cub decides to use his patient mother as a leaning post, the birds in the trees requiring closer inspection” Andy Parkinson.
“I was photographing a group of goslings for a while when one broke away from the pack. It hid behind the leg of a bench for a few seconds before poking its little head out to say hello.” Pal Marchart.
#36 Cotton Eyed Joe
“Ever seen a grizzly bear square dance? Just need a jug, some spoons and a banjo. Gets ‘em every time”. Rick Elieson.
#37 Welcome To Nature!
“A red damselfly welcomes us into the world of macro nature. It was so amazing to see it climb up the straw, and pause at the intersection to say hi! :)” Mattias Hammar.
#38 Sweet Lips Are For Kissing!
“This picture was taken at CuraÃ§ao, Dutch Caribbean. Usually box fishes are difficult to take pictures of, since they do not have a problem of a diver coming close, but if you show interest, they always turn the back and not the face to you. That’s why I tried to swim 0.5m above the fish and showing no interest at all to him. The same time I had my camera not in front of me, but below at my chest pointing to the bottom. When the right moment had come, I turned the camera 90 degrees to the front and just point and shoot, hoping to have the fish in focus. Never expected to have its beautiful lips that close!” Philipp Starr.
#39 Just Checking
“A male Vervet Monkey was hanging around a bridge over the Luangwa River in South Luangwa National Park looking for some action (handouts from passersby).” Larry Petterborg.
“Two Western Grey Kangaroos were fighting and one missed kicking him in the stomach.” Lea Scaddan.