This is truly amazing. An elephant was rescued after it got swept out to sea by a current when trying to wade between islands in Sri Lanka.
The whole effort, which was called “a miraculous escape,” was captured on video, after the mammal was spotted trying to keep its trunk above water while trying to swim.
The endeavor was massive, taking 12 hours, and involving the Sri Lankan Navy, as Navy spokesman Chaminda Walakuluge noted they sprang into action after seeing the elephant swimming off the island’s northeast coast.
Divers and wildlife officials worked swiftly to help the animal in distress, using ropes to tow the elephant carefully and safely into shallow waters, after he was carried nine miles from the coast.
The animal was released after the rescue mission.
Walakuluge commented on how animals will traverse Kokkilai lagoon, which lies between two jungle areas, noting: “They usually wade through shallow waters or even swim across to take a short cut. It is a miraculous escape for the elephant.”
The Navy released the following statement: “A group of officials from the Department of Wildlife also joined this humongous task providing necessary instruction which became extremely vital in the rescue mission. Accordingly, they were able to carefully direct the elephant towards the coast from the deep sea, by means of ropes.”
The statement added: “Having safely guided the elephant to the Yan Oya area in Pulmodai, the animal was handed over to the wildlife officials for onward action.”
Avinash Krishnan, a research officer from the A Rocha conservation group told The Guardian: ” They’re very good swimmers. Swimming about 15km from the shore is not unusual for an elephant. [But] they can’t keep swimming for long because they burn a lot of energy.”
He added, “And the salt water isn’t good for their skin, so in this case, the situation probably warranted human intervention.”
This is not the navy’s first animal rescue – just recently they worked with locals to help a pod of 20 whales who were stranded in a harbor.
Those weighing in with comments on the Daily Mail‘s coverage of the story applauded the navy’s efforts, with comments such as: “Aww well done those people it restores your faith in human nature when you witness scenes such as this,” “Thank you, good people, for helping him! There is no way he would have survived otherwise,” and “Lovely to see this rescue of an endangered species. If only more countries would care for endangered species better.”
Another person wondered: “How can an elephant stay afloat? It can’t swim with those huge legs,” while this person thought some kind of means of keeping the elephant afloat would have been a huge help: “So pleased he was rescued. Pity they didn’t have some suitable kind of floatation device to use.”
One person joked: “Can you imagine that first radio call back to base?”
Another commenter explained what happened after the rescue: “the animal had bruises due to ropes tied to him. The animal was sedated and treated and released.”