Jumbo rescued from well after 12-hour effort (Ullaty, India)


P V Srividya, The Hindu

Date Published

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A 10-year-old female elephant that had slipped into a farm well was rescued and released after a day-long operation here in Ullaty off the Kelamangalam-Rayakottai Road on Thursday.

The elephant was part of a 45-member herd from the Udedurgam reserve forest here. The herd had entered the village of Ullaty in Vepalampatty Panchayat around midnight. According to locals, the villagers had used torchlights to ward off the herd.

The competing use of torches from different directions had pushed the herd back. In the melee, the herd is suspected to have touched a low-lying electricity line triggering sparks, locals say. The panic-stricken elephants jostled against each other and rushed past the well, at which point the female elephant fell into the well at around 4.15 a.m. The alarmed herd hung around, circling the well for some time, before they left the spot.

“We had been complaining against the low-lying wires that are within touching distance. But electricity officials never dropped by,” said a local. The forest officials arrived on the site to carry out the rescue operations. It was initially suspected that the elephant may have suffered external injuries. But its fiery temper and stiff resistance with an occasional rumble, agitated by the scent of humans, indicated that the elephant may have escaped external injuries.

The rescue operation was delayed by a forenoon of resistance by the locals who objected to the dredging of the well, and the resultant indecision of the officials. Conservator of forests, Dharmapuri, Ashish Kumar Srivastava arrived at the spot to negotiate with the locals.

“Shall we leave the elephant to die inside the well?” he asked.

A compromise was reached after the Sub Collector of Hosur Senthil Raju promised to restore the well fully.

He also sanctioned widow pension to Roja, the owner of the plot. Two earthmovers began dredging thereafter.

As the negotiations were under way, some 30 feet below, the elephant butted its head against the bed of the well, frustrated over being trapped.

A bid to gently woo the animal with water and bananas in a stainless steel bucket was met with fierce resistance, as the elephant whacked the dangling bucket with its trunk, spilling all the water. In the afternoon, the restlessness of the elephant increased as the earthmover rumbled on, slowly dredging the earth from about 50 meters from the well.

A ramp was created. Twelve long hours later, the elephant, after sustained and multiple efforts, climbed up the loose soil.