An elephant has been rescued after it was spotted desperately keeping its trunk above water while swimming five miles out to sea.
The rescue, which took 12 hours and involved the Sri Lankan navy, has been hailed as a ‘miraculous escape’ for the giant mammal.
Navy spokesman Chaminda Walakuluge said the navy mounted the mission after spotting the elephant struggling to stay afloat off the island’s northeast coast.
Divers aided by wildlife officials approached the distressed animal and tied ropes to it before towing it gently to shallow waters near the coast, where it was released late on Tuesday.
Mr. Walakuluge said the animal had likely got swept into the sea while crossing the Kokkilai lagoon, a large stretch of water that lies between two areas of the jungle.
He said: ‘They usually wade through shallow waters or even swim across to take a shortcut.’
‘It is a miraculous escape for the elephant.’
Photos posted on the navy’s website show the animal trying to keep its trunk above the water as divers approached it.
The rescue came six weeks after the navy and local residents saved a pod of 20 pilot whales who became stranded in nearby Trincomalee, a natural harbor that is popular for whale watching.
The waters around Trincomalee, which was used by Allied forces as a staging post during World War II, have a high concentration of blue and sperm whales, while the surrounding jungles have herds of wild elephants.
By AFP/Daily Mail