Tamed Tuskers By Senthil Kumaran
A spotlight on plunging elephant count in South Asia
The numbers do not bode well. More than 80 per cent of India’s elephant corridor has now been encroached on by human activity.Over the past decade,in regions where people have tried to safeguard themselves and their livelihoods with power cables, close to 630 elephants have died after being electrocuted.In the past five years,2,300 people have died because of elephant attacks. As governments fail to save the lives of humans and wildlife,both sides are losing this unnecessary war.
Given how bleak the landscape appears, it is only the Kurumba tribe that affords some hope. Living along southern India's Western Ghats,members of this tribe have for long nurtured their relationship with Asiatic elephants. Even today, they run taming camps for these tuskers, havens where these wild animals are encouraged to coexist with humans.
Rajendran’s astonishing photo, we see a mahout, resolute and strong, and we see an elephant, both free and calm. Exhibited as part of this year's Chennai Photo Biennale (on till 6 February), it is in this image that we find a blueprint for peace.