I was at a karaoke bar in Mumbai a few nights ago when a woman who lived next door threatened that if noise levels didn’t reduce immediately, she would start throwing boiling hot water on all of us. Subjecting people to scalding water may have been an extreme measure, but turns out, noise pollution is doing its share of damage already.
A Cuban crocodile in the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust—a reptile zoo and herpetology research centre in Chennai in south India—died on March 30 and Romulus Whitaker, the founder of the centre, is convinced that it was because of a loud party happening at the Sheraton Grand Chennai Resort & Spa next door. The herpetologist and Padma Shri awardee—also known as ‘India’s Snake Man’—said he was undoubtedly sure the death of this endangered reptile was a result of stress caused by vibrations from the heavy bass music being played at the resort.
The Cuban crocodile, which is a critically endangered species according to the World Conservation Union (IUCN) listing, was one of the four females that the crocodile bank housed along with only one male specimen. Whitaker claims that the animal was perfectly healthy and well-fed, and only died because the resort was playing music beyond the permissible limit in its lawns, an issue the reptile lover had taken up with the hotel before. Bringing up concerns that the long-term effects of playing music this loud could possibly impact their breeding and behaviour patterns, the hotel gave an assurance that they would comply with legal regulations and keep decibel limits in check.
Meanwhile, Sheraton Chennai, which went all out to market the fact that their hotel could give you a ‘crocodile view’ of the centre which has been around since the 1970s, resorted to saying that they were not responsible. They refuted this by saying that the event happened on the beach and not the lawns. Because, of course, sound is restricted to tangible boundaries.
We may live in a time where Skrillex’s bangers are being used as a mosquito repellent, but we also need to realise that “shit happens when you’re getting shitfaced” is no longer an excuse to justify a very real form of environmental pollution.
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This article originally appeared on VICE IN.