After a traumatic 11 hours trapped in a muddy well, a baby elephant weighing ‘hundreds of pounds’ has been rescued in dramatic circumstances in a small Indian village, after locals risked their lives to help in the operation.
According to local media, the baby elephant became stuck in the well late in the evening, and the elephant’s mother tried desperately throughout the night to pull her out, without success.
“The area around the side of the well had too much sand and mud,” said one villager, who helped in the rescue effort. “Whenever the mother approached the well, she couldn’t get a firm footing because she kept sinking into the muddy ground. We tried to get her to move out of the way, but she became aggressive at our presence.”
The villagers wanted to help, but they feared the agitated mother elephant could misinterpret their desire. “These wild elephants are perfectly harmless in most situations, but when one of their young is in danger, they have been known to lash out at humans,” said one local. “A man was killed a few months ago after he drove his motorbike too close to a baby.”
With darkness soon covering the area, there was little the villagers could do until the next morning. A small group stayed up and accompanied the mother in her fruitless attempts to save the baby. “At one point in the night, she almost managed to get [the baby] out, but she lost her footing and slipped.”
This act almost caused disaster, with the baby elephant – weak from the exhaustion of being trapped for hours – falling under the pool of muddy water and nearly drowning. “We prayed that she would be OK, and we were so relieved to see her slowly drag herself up out of the mud.”
By the next morning, 11 hours had elapsed since the baby elephant fell into the well. Both mother and child were exhausted from the ordeal, and the villagers knew they were running out of time to help. The onlookers knew that if they could lure the mother away for some time, they could shift the soil that was preventing her from getting a firm footing at the edge of the well – but how could get the mother to move?
“We put our heads together, and someone suggested we try and distract her with some food,” said one of the men involved in the rescue operation. “We knew it was a risk, because even if she did move away to eat, there was nothing stopping her charging back when she saw us approach the well, but it was a risk we were willing to take.”
The owner of a local banana farm sent workers out to chop bunches of the fruit from his plantation. “We know the elephants here love bananas, so we thought it was the perfect food to act as a distraction.” As it turned out, the villagers were right: the mother gave up her lonely vigil by the side of the well once the bananas arrived.
With a narrow window of opportunity, a group of brave villagers armed with shovels rushed to the side of the well and began shifting the soil that was deposited by the side. “We worked frantically, because there was no way of telling when the mother would return.”
Despite a few nervous moments, when the mother elephant appeared to lose interest in her meal, the villagers were able to complete their work without being attacked. “We only just finished before she returned,” one of the men involved in the operation told local media.
The villagers looked on from a safe distance: had their gamble paid off? “We were overjoyed when the mother, now able to get close enough to the well with the soil removed, was able to get a firm grasp around her baby with her trunk.” The crowd of villagers cheered as they watched the mother pry her child from the well and up to safety.
“We knew we were taking a risk, but we couldn’t just stand by and watch the baby die in that well. It’s so great that there was a happy ending.” Mother and child were last seen walking together into the jungle near the village, with the baby showing no ill effects from her ordeal in the well.