COIMBATORE: Clockwork precision and deft handling helped Coimbatore forest officials rescue an elephant calf after a five hour-long rescue operation from a 50-foot-deep dry well at Kovanur in Periyanacikenpalayam forest range on Thursday afternoon. After getting first-aid, the little jumbo headed straight to the forest amid applause from NGO volunteers and local villagers, who stayed put for over five hours while the officials carried out the arduous and risky rescue operation.
If there were any nerves, the officials did not show signs of it as the first round of the operation was ably managed by K Asokan, veterinarian of Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR), who administered a tranquilizer shot that sedated the little one around 10.15 am – nearly 30 hours after it fell into the well. E Vijayaragavan, veterinarian of Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) assisted Asokan.
An hour later, when the effects of the tranquilizer started kicking in, four forest staff were lowered into the well. They deftly tied belts around the animal’s chest and stomach – a risky operation that could have cost the pachyderm its life. Experts say lifting an elephant using a rope is a difficult task, as pachyderms do not have pleural space. Any kind of pressure on the chest and sternum for more than 10-15 minutes can lead to suffocation, and death. Hence, placing the ropes deftly without putting the elephant’s life at risk was an arduous task. Moreover, exact placement of rope and shifting weight to stomach too was very crucial.
The sedative – Xylazine – was used to induce sleep, said the vets. The precaution was taken as there was a crowd of by-standers and any loud noise could have disturbed the jumbo to disastrous consequences. LCS Srikanth, assistant conservator of forest, said that forest protection squad was also present. “The forest staff put their life at risk. Were it not for them, the operation would have been very difficult. Had the elephant made any movement, their…