This rescue took an entire day
If you look into the plight of wildlife populations anywhere in the world, you’ll see that the statistics are pretty bad. Elephants, tigers, lions, and almost every other large wild animal is in danger of becoming extinct thanks to human activities like hunting for sport and forest destruction. While far too many people out there are bent on wiping out innocent creatures, others will do anything to save them, even if it’s just one at a time.
The Importance of Elephants
Sri Lanka may not be a massive place, but it has a wide array of native flora and fauna that make it quite a special place to enjoy nature. They have 24 nature preserves so that they can protect their beautiful animals which have suffered diminished populations due to poachers and trophy hunters. The Asian Elephant population has gone down by 65% since 1900 because of elephant leather hunters and deforestation, despite the elephants being deemed endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and killing them being illegal.
That’s why a group of naval workers knew that they needed to save this elephant’s life when it was in dire need of rescue. Navy men on a Fast Attack Craft were on a routine patrol of the northeast coast of Sri Lanka when they noticed something strange in the water, eventually realizing it was an elephant barely holding its trunk above the waterline, struggling to breathe. They immediately asked for backup in rescuing it, and another Fast Attack Craft came to the scene with divers and ropes aboard.
A Helpless Creature
These navy men were used to seeing elephants swimming; they’re quite buoyant and can use their trunks as snorkels. Elephant Voices co-founder Joyce Poole told the National Geographic, “Elephants are considered the best swimmers of any land mammal—perhaps excluding trained human swimmers.”
This particular elephant was just under 10 miles out to sea; he was exhausted and was unable to make it back to land by himself. They believe that the gentle beast was trying to cross a small body of water called the Kokkilai Lagoon that separates two areas of jungle in the nature preserve where he lived. One official who aided in helping this animal said, “They usually wade through shallow waters or even swim across to take a short cut.”
When the rescue team made it out to the elephant, he was barely visible from the surface. The divers got into their scuba gear and went into the water to tie ropes around him. They pulled him in over the course of 12 hours; they even had one person on his back as they guided him to the shore.
When they arrived to where he could finally stand up, he was thoroughly checked out by wildlife experts to make sure he was okay. Being submerged in salt water for so long can damage an elephant’s delicate skin. He was deemed to be perfectly fine, though tired, and was released.
As elephant populations across the globe are being decimated by poachers, it’s beautiful to see such care being taken to save every elephant life possible. SHARE this heartwarming story and spread awareness about the plight of elephants!