Elephant calf rescued from well, reunited with mom (Coimbatore, India)


Times of India

Date Published

In a rescue operation that lasted 24 hours, an elephant calf that fell
into a 60ft-deep open well at Thirumaallur near Periyanaickenpalayam
on Tuesday evening was sedated and lifted out with a crane and
released into the forest on Thursday morning.

The eight-year-old calf was part of an elephant herd that ventured
into the Thirumaallur area in search of food and water. The animal got
separated from the herd and fell into the open well. Forest rangers
and anti-poaching watchers who were patrolling the area on Tuesday
heard the cries of an animal in distress and found the animal in the
well in an area covered with the invasive karuvelam trees.

Personnel of the forest department and the fire and rescue services
began the rescue operation on Wednesday morning. “Animals generally
feel the difference in the ground level, but since the well was not
fenced the animal might have slipped and fallen into it,” said
environmentalist Mohan Raj, who saw through the rescue operation.

The lower 40ft of the well had concrete rings. On Wednesday night,
forest officials cut a path up to the edge of the concrete area. “We
removed the sand to make way for a vehicle to reach this point. This
took us almost the whole night and a few hours in the morning,” said
Periyanaickenpalayam ranger Palani Raja.

Throughout the operation, the young elephant was fed water, jackfruit
and sugarcane at regular intervals. It was also given medicines
concealed in the jackfruit to keep it fit.

On Thursday morning, the calf was given a mild sedative. “By 11am it
calmed down. We sent down four experienced mahouts into the well who
tied belts with hooks around its legs, neck and body,” said forest
veterinarian Dr Ashokan. The animal, which weighed around two tonnes,
was lifted out with a crane.

The calf had sustained bruises on the head, trunk and hind legs in the
fall. It was given a bath and medicine to help it come out of
sedation. “The calf immediately stood up and began running into the
forest. We formed four teams and followed the animal who joined its
mother and what appeared to be a sibling which had been waiting on the
forest fringes since last night,” Dr Ashokan said.

Environmentalists said the incident exposed the need to close or fence
open wells and address the drought situation in the forest. “There is
a shortage of water in the forest, forcing animals to stray into the
plains to quench their thirst. The forest department should also ask
panchayats to fence or close open wells,” Dr Mohan Raj said.