Warning: This is not for the faint of heart. It is a tragic story of an elephant named Bangabahadur.
Monsoon season in India is not as romantic as it may sound, especially If you have only heard of it through the film, Monsoon Wedding.
It is the rainy season in India that can cause real destruction. Even the villages around where I live in Dharamsala are on red alert. People have been warned that their homes will be washed away if there is one more landslide. Some families have lost their homes already and are living in schoolhouses.
In Assam, a northern state of India, the monsoons are particularly destructive. This year alone, in Assam, “80,000 people and 4,000 hectares of crop land have been affected by recent flooding, according to Assam State Disaster Management Agency (ASDMA).”
Thirty-one people have died from landslides. Rivers are overflowing. In the U.S., this would be a state of emergency, a national problem. In India, this is just an annual occurrence.
It is not any easier for the animals. Just this month, 13 rhinos died of drowning in a national park in Assam.
This year’s monsoon has also cost one elephant his life. This elephant was swept into the Brahmaputra River for 900 miles, until finally being dumped in Bangladesh. At different points along the way, he tried to get to shore, but was beaten back into the water by villagers who were afraid the he would trample their homes and crops.
Finally, he reached a swampy shore in Bangladesh, where he tried to find food and shelter. The locals named him Bangabahadur, which means, “hero of Bengal.”