Abhilash and his friend spotted the elephant Sundar and began to take selfies | By Manju Shettar https://t.co/G51P8M0KnK— New Indian Express (@NewIndianXpress) July 27, 2017
The selfie culture has yet again claimed a life.
A man, only identified as Abhilash, was trampled to death by an elephant in India in his relentless quest for a selfie.
The 27-year-old sales representative, who lived in Hanumanthnagar, had gone to the forest area behind Bannerghatta Biological Park in Bengaluru accompanied by a few of his friends even though the park was closed.
Two of his friends apparently stayed near their bikes to drink alcohol while another went with Abhilash to take a selfie with Sundar the elephant, and entered an area where elephants in training are kept.
According to the park officials, about 20 elephants, rescued or taken from the wild, are allowed to graze in the forest patch attached to the elephant care center. However, 16-year-old Sundar was kept in an enclosure built specifically for elephants who periodically display highly aggressive behavior, said Santosh Kumar, executive director of BBP.
According to local reports, the elephant caught Abhilash in its trunk when he drew near to snap a picture and then crushed him under its feet. The man’s friends quickly fled the scene.
The victim’s body was discovered later in the day and he was taken to Victoria hospital where his parents identified him.
However, representatives of PETA India said they did not think Sundar was feeling particularly aggressive that day.
“Sundar was in good condition. One cannot conclusively say before investigation that the elephant caused the man’s death. Only a thorough investigation can establish that. In all these years, there has not been a report of Sundar attacking humans. Even if Sundar caused the death, animals tend to do this out of self-defense or when they feel threatened,” said Manilal Valliyate.
Sundar has quite a torturous history. The elephant was rescued from his abusive handlers by a campaign supported by actress Pamela Anderson and Beatles singer Paul McCartney. In 2013, an undercover investigation revealed the animal was held captive at a temple in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, where his handlers would chain it and beat it with poles, while it thrashed in pain.
Anderson was moved to tears by the inhumane treatment of Sundar and McCartney wrote an impassioned letter to India’s forest minister condemning the abuse.“I have seen photographs of young Sundar, the elephant kept alone in a shed at Jyotiba Temple and put in chains with spikes,” he wrote. “... I appeal to you to do what is right here and get Sundar post-haste to rehabilitation in the forest.”
In 2014, the elephant was transported to Bannerghatta Biological Park so that he could be taken care of properly.
Abhilash’s parents launched a complaint against the park and called out its “lack of security.”
Deaths by selfies are not an uncommon occurrence in India.
In May, a man was run over by a train and crushed to death after he attempted to take a selfie on the railroad tracks.
In 2012, a tech worker was trampled to death by another elephant while he was trespassing in this very same park.
In fact, according to the Huffington Post, India had the most selfie deaths in the world in 2015.
Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters, Stringer