As the cause of a traffic jam, it doesn’t get cuter than this: a little elephant trying to cross the road quickly – and getting a helping hand (or trunk) from its mother.
This little chap was the smallest member of the herd that decided to cross the street in Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu, a state in southern India.
But what constitutes a sweet image does not satisfy the drivers.
The herd ends up hanging around for hours – leaving trucks, cars and motorbikes stranded on the dual carriageway with no one to go and unable to do anything but watch the largest land mammals of mother nature go about their daily lives.
But there’s a more serious side to the problem than some frustrated drivers.
As India’s rapid urbanization continues, elephants that once roamed the vast forests are coming into contact with their neighbours more often, being pushed into their path as their migratory routes become blocked.
Coimbatore, and nearby Hosur and Gudalur, are particular hotspots, whereas many as 700 elephants call the area home.
Wildlife activists claim at least 20 people are kil.l.ed by elephants each year in this area alone – elephants that a few years ago would never have come near a human settlement.
Meanwhile, 10 to 15 gorgeous creatures are k.ill.e.d on the road, either by speeding vehicles or by po.a.chers behind their valuable tusks.
However, Indian government statistics show that, across the country, wild elephants ki.l.l more people than tigers, leopards or lions. As many as 391 people and 39 elephants di.e.d from human-animal conflict in the 12 months to 2015 across the country.
Nevertheless, wildlife activist Umesh Marudhachalam is clear whose fault this is.
‘The problem is not with animals, but with humans. We have destroyed their habitat and encroached on their migratory path. What is remaining of the buffer should be preserved,’ he said.
Activists say one of the main reasons behind these conflicts is blocking the elephants’ traditional migration routes, leading to elephants entering human habitations and destroying crops.