The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have not viewed the world.

- Alexander von Humboldt



Feb 24, 2017

Save Orissa’s Giant Refugees—Elephants Abused by Human Mobs

Elephant herds in the forests of eastern India are being attacked by human beings who have intruded into areas that were once wilderness.


Supriya Vohra

This wildlife campaign hopes to end the conflict.

In the patches of forests and fields that fringe Bhubaneshwar city, Orissa, a herd of elephants is caught in constant conflict. The elephants are regularly harassed and abused by humans who live in nearby villages.

Cara Tejpal, a wildlife conservationist with Sanctuary Nature Foundation, and her colleagues witnessed this abuse in December 2016, when they had gone to recce the area for a documentary project.

“It was a horrific sight. There were about 300 men, many of them drunk on local liquor, just harassing the poor elephants, not letting them pass through,” she told The Outdoor Journal.

The elephants arrived in the area about five years ago, after wandering away from the Chandaka-Dampara Wildlife Sanctuary nearby, as it had degraded over time. For several years, the elephants have ambled through rural lands and patches of Athgarh Forest Division nearby, resting in the day and moving at night, in constant search for food and the next place for shelter.

As evening descends, mobs of people begin harassing these gentle giants. “The frenzy of the mob is overwhelming. This isn’t even an exercise in defence, because there aren’t any crops or homesteads for them to protect. This is pure entertainment for them,” Cara fumed.

Human mob running after an elephant in Athgarh Forest Division. Photo © Karan Tejpal
Human mob running after an elephant in Athgarh Forest Division. Photo © Karan Tejpal

Hunting is a prohibited activity under India’s Wild Life Protection Act (1972). This includes, “capturing, coursing, snaring, trapping, driving or baiting any wild or captive animal and every attempt to do so;” as well as “injuring or destroying or taking any part of the body of any such animal.”

The abuse of elephants is punishable under this act, but no action has been taken yet.

To combat this, Cara and her team—Orissa-based conservationist Aditya Chandra Panda, filmmakers Ishaan Ghosh, Karan and Tiya Tejpal have launched a public campaign with Sanctuary Nature Foundation to appeal to Orissa’s Chief Minister to take appropriate action.

How To Participate in the Campaign
STEP 1: Share the link to the campaign video above with Naveen Patnaik, the Chief Minister of Orissa.

STEP 2: Ask him to take urgent action to protect the refugee elephants of Athgarh by:

* Directing police intervention to control mobs so that the elephants are allowed undisturbed passage.

* Setting up a task force to effect the restoration of the Chandaka-Dampara Wildlife Sanctuary, and to secure and revive its corridors to the Kapilas Wildlife Sanctuary and the Satkosia landscape in the state.

Send him an email at: cmo@nic.in with a copy to: editorial@sanctuaryasia.com
Tweet to him @Naveen_Odisha with the hashtag #GiantRefugees.
Note:Taken from Sanctuary Asia’s page.

“The only immediate solution to this is police intervention to control the mob,” Cara explained in a telephone conversation. “The elephants just want a safe passage to go to their next destination.”

“As a long term measure, the Chandaka-Dampara Sanctuary, and the forest corridors that connect it to other wilderness areas in the state HAVE to be revived,” she said.

Herd martriarch Laxmi and her daughter Moti caress each other with their trunks as the mob closes in on them. Photo © Karan Tejpal
Herd martriarch Laxmi and her daughter Moti caress each other with their trunks as the mob closes in on them. Photo © Karan Tejpal

“The forest authorities are not empowered enough to take action, so this NEEDS to be directed by the chief minister. So far, over 150 individuals have written emails to the CM demanding his intervention, and dozens have reached out to him on social media, including several celebrities. We are keeping our fingers crossed for a miracle,” she said on a final note.

The Indian elephant (Elephas maximus) has been listed endangered by the IUCN since 1986, since their population has declined by 50% in the last 75 years. The elephant is an intelligent, social and sentient being. They need forest corridors to roam around freely, their habitat restored to grow and play freely. They deserve respect and freedom. Help them by taking part in this campaign.

Feature Image © Aditya Chandra Panda

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Jul 10, 2018

The 2018 Whitewater Awards: Nouria Newman and Benny Marr take the spoils.

The Whitewater Awards is a gathering of the world’s best kayakers to show off the biggest and best things that have happened in the sport over the past year.



Brooke Hess

 To be considered for an award, athletes, photographers, and filmmakers submit media taken over the past year that they believe showcases the best progression in the sport.  

There are sixteen different categories for submission, including separate male and female categories within the “Best of” kayaking categories. Categories include Photographer of the Year, Film of the Year, Expedition of the Year, Best Trick, Best Line, River Stewardship, Grom of the Year, Rider of the Year, along with several others.  Awards are decided upon by a voting process done by the Association of Whitewater Professionals.

This year’s Whitewater Awards was held in the Egyptian Theater in downtown Boise, Idaho. It was hosted on June 14th, the same weekend as the North Fork Championships, which takes place on the North Fork of the Payette River just outside of Boise.  The North Fork Championship is regarded as one of the hardest kayaking races in the world.

The race takes place on Jacob’s Ladder rapid, which is a rapid so difficult and consequential that most kayakers feel accomplished simply by surviving the rapid, much less racing the rapid. Nouria Newman, a 3-time NFC racer and winner of this year’s Whitewater Awards Female Rider of the Year describes it well,

“The NFC is the hardest race in whitewater kayaking. [Jacob’s Ladder] is a scary, consequential rapid. Running it is challenging, and it only gets harder to race it and make the gates.”

In order to minimize the risk involved in the race, event organizers have developed a strict qualification process for racers. 30 racers will qualify to race Jacob’s Ladder. Ten of them are pre-qualified from placing top ten at the event the year before. Those ten then read numerous athlete applications and vote on the next ten racers who will join them.  The last ten racers are decided through a qualification race on S-Turn rapid, another one of the North Fork’s infamous class V rapids.

Every year on this same weekend in June, kayakers, photographers, and filmmakers from around the world flock to Idaho to celebrate quality whitewater, progression of the sport, and the community that surrounds it. Both the North Fork Championship and the Whitewater Awards had great turnouts of athletes and spectators this year.

John Webster

The finalists of each category in the Whitewater Awards were presented in film format at the Egyptian Theater for the entire audience to view, with the winner being announced live. Winners were presented with an award and expected to give a short speech at the event. The big winners of the night were Nouria Newman and Benny Marr, who were awarded with Line of the Year and Rider of the Year in the female and male categories. Nouria says that voting for the “best” in each category is a challenging process, “…voting is always tricky, (look at both French and U.S. presidents, not too sure if they are really the best available option). And it is also very hard to compare lines and rapids. What’s bigger? What’s harder? I got voted Best Line of the Year with a good line down Parque Jurassic, a long technical rapid, but Rata’s line down Graceland, which is a huge slide, was equally as good, if not better.”

No matter how tricky the voting process can be, Nouria agrees that the Whitewater Awards plays a large role in the progression of the sport, “I think it’s super cool to see what people can do in their kayak, how they push the limit of the sport and how they open new possibilities.”

For more information about the Whitewater Awards, you can visit whitewaterawards.com, you can also follow them on Facebook and on Instagram.

You can follow Nouria on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

You can follow Benny on Facebook and Instagram.

Cover photo courtesy of Ari Walker

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