The heat of the afternoon sun was unbearable. Ammu didn’t know how long she had been walking for. Food was scarce and she was extremely hungry. Ammu hadn’t eaten in days. Hunger and desperation were clawing her from inside out. She was alone, separated from her family, and lost. The thick forest cover was slowly beginning to thin out. The rays of the scorching sun that penetrated through the canopy were slowly growing in intensity. But food remained elusive. She was starving and nearly dying from thirst. But she never gave up. She was determined to find something to eat. On and on, she walked. She walked till she could not walk any further. “This is it.” She thought to herself. “I’m going to die of hunger.” That’s when the wind carried the sweet-smelling air up to her. Food! Something sweet and fruity! All was not lost after all. A tiny ray of light flickered within her. Her keen nose guided her to the source of the smell. Relief and joy flooded her heart in equal measure. It was a field full of fruits and there in the clearing lay a ripe, golden pineapple! It seemed like a human dwelling and the elders had warned her to stay away from humans. They had always maintained that humans were not trustworthy. The humans had trapped her father and snatched him away from his family forever. So the elders claimed that humans were greedy, selfish, and cold-hearted. But Ammu was beginning to see the humans in a new light! They had left some food for her. Humans couldn’t be so bad after all. Her elders must have been very mistaken. Humans had a heart of gold. Excited and overjoyed, she munched on the tasty pineapple. That was when something went horribly wrong.
One moment she was gobbling up the pineapple and the next moment, a long, resonant bang blasted her ears and tore through her mouth. Excruciating pain was all she could feel – a pain so severe that it blinded her. Blood was gushing from her burnt mouth and lower jaw which was also broken from the impact. She nearly rolled over from the pain and the ringing in her ears. With an equally painful blow to her tender heart, she realized that her elders were spot on when it came to humans. If only she had taken their warnings seriously.
Ammu fled from the scene. Her injuries had taken a toll on her. Liquid food was all she could eat. Her mouth was nearly ripped apart and very badly burnt. She roamed about for over 20 days, in excruciating pain. The humans had broken her trust, and yet she never made a move to harm them. Starved and exhausted, she finally resorted to wandering into a nearby river. That was when some of the humans tried to help her. But she had had enough to do with humans, and she refused all help. It wasn’t that long before she was put out of her misery. Standing there, in the middle of the river, Ammu drew her last breath.
The humans who wanted to help her were heart-broken. They cursed the ones who had put a pineapple laden with explosives in the middle of their field to trap wild boars. After the post-mortem, the news took an even more tragic turn. “Poor elephant! She wasn’t alone. There was a little one growing inside her”, the heart-broken vet sighed. Ammu was going to be a mother. Her poor little baby elephant would never see the light of the day. Both Ammu and her unborn baby were unfortunate victims.
She had made one mistake: she trusted humans. And she paid for it with her life, and that of her unborn child.
Truth is stranger than fiction. This story is based on a real-life incident. I’m appalled and ashamed to know that such an inhuman incident took place in my home state. The poor elephant had ingested a pineapple filled with explosives. No, they did not feed it to her. She and her unborn baby were accidental victims. But that fact did nothing to reduce her suffering. The “explosive” pineapples are apparently used by the locals as a regular trap against wild boars who attack their crops. It’s a really barbaric way to deal with animals. After all, they are hungry too. And humans are the ones who encroach into their habitats and convert it into farmlands.
In this case, the elephant and her unborn baby eventually succumbed to injuries. She was standing in the middle of the river. Even though the actions of some humans had hurt her, she did not attack a single soul as she was roamed about in pain. Though the forest rangers tried to help her, all their efforts were in vain. Reading the news article was harsh enough. I don’t want to rehash the whole details. Kindly google in case you’re interested to know more about this incident. But beware of false news fabricated solely for dramatic uses.
Dear departed souls, please know that not all humans are like the ones who caused you so much harm. I beg your pardon for all the harm that has been inflicted upon you and your unborn baby. Please know that there are a million human who would have done anything and everything in our power to save you from such a terrible fate. But Alas! we are too late for that now. Rest in peace, sweet souls.
I’m heartbroken. This was not humane. Humans inflict so much harm to animals, intentionally and unintentionally. And yet, we are ones called “humans” and they are ones who are called as “animals”.
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© 2020 Shweta Suresh. All rights reserved.