BENGALURU: When you sip a cup of coffee every morning, do you wonder about the coffee estates and how elephants have become inhabitants of these estates?
A documentary Elephant in the Coffee by the students of Clic Abroad Foundation, US showcases the relationship of elephants and humans in the elephant camps around Karnataka. The documentary shows lives of mahouts and their lives surrounding the elephants. Bhaskar Krishnamurthy, president of Clic Abroad Foundation and producer of the film, says “They live at risk every day. We spoke to people who were injured by an elephant attack and who lost their dear ones.”
But if you tell the story from a human’s perspective all the time, the elephants will lose the conflict. So, do we let elephants lose the conflict or do we co-exist with them? Bhaskar and Tom Grant, journalism professor of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, US, raise this question through the documentary.
About 300 people die due to elephant attacks in India every year, but that is just a small number compared to deaths due to snake bites or accidents, says Bhaskar.
“But elephant attacks always turn into a big issue as they are huge mammoths and can’t sneak away like snakes. No one talks about snake bites or accidents as much as elephant attacks,” adds Bhaskar. There is also a double standard when it comes to this issue, he says adding, “A coffee estate owner in Coorg takes pride in saying that elephants visit his estate, but when it damages the crops or attacks someone, he tries to get it captured.”
The film also talks about how elephants are captured and tortured to domesticate and train. “Elephants have the reverence of God. But it has become a menace for many people now. There’s no tolerance towards elephants. The children who lost their mother to elephant attack now do not like elephants,” he says.
Bhaskar claims if the present situation prevails, 50 years later, there will be no elephants in the country. Bhaskar says the 58-minute film has been selected for six international festivals. “We also plan to continue this project.”