By: Toby Meyjes for Metro.co.uk
Heartbreaking images have emerged of an elephant sifting through mounds of rubbish including plastic bags and used sanitary towels to find something to eat.
The pictures were taken in West Bengal, India, by photographer Somnath Das as he prepared to travel into the forest to capture footage of the animals in the wild.
Instead, he was transported to a nearby field where the elephant was looking through the waste and picking out unhygienic food to eat.
The 29-year-old has published pictures in the hope that it will show others the devastating impact humans can have as their lives encroach upon animals in their natural habitat.
At the very least he believes others will be encouraged to dispose of their waste more responsibly.
He said: ‘The elephant was searching for foods from a heap of plastic bags and was eating the unhygienic foods, and also the residential wastes, including some bio-hazards.
‘There were mostly polythene bags, which have been banned here, and various types of plastic packets of dry foods. There were also sanitary towels among what the elephant was eating.’
He added: ‘These pictures make me worried and sad. The elephants do not know what plastic is. They can smell the food inside.
‘I would hope that if people see these pictures they will see the mistakes they make by throwing away plastics and refuse incorrectly.
‘Here they can see its effects. I think people will be shocked to see this.’