Forest department officials rescued a baby elephant, less than a year-and-a-half-old, from a 15-foot open well into which it fell during a nightly raid by a herd of elephants on a homestead in the Urulanthanni division of Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Thattekkadu, on Sunday night.

The efforts to rescue to the cuddly little baby elephant took more than three hours and a dozen people, who used earthmoving equipment to dig a shallow channel out of the well so that the animal could be coaxed out of the well.

The owner of the property P.R. Janardahanan said that the male calf was part of a herd of a dozen elephants that usually raided his and neighbouring property on a regular basis. In fact, the herd had entered the property around 11 p.m. on Sunday night but was chased away.

The herd returned around 3 a.m. on Monday and stayed on for about two hours during which period the baby elephant appears to have fallen into the well. Elephants and other animals like wild boars are regular raiders on his property, located within the bird sanctuary, bordering the Malayattoor teak plantations. The raids have become more regular and intense with a drought-like condition prevailing in the plantation area.

Mr. Janardhanan’s property is separated from the Malayattoor plantation by a deep and wide canal, which still has more than knee-deep water. Herds of elephants frequent the canal to drink water and often stray into the agricultural land nearby.

The villagers were roused by the cry of the elephants on Monday morning to find the baby inside the well. Forest department officials were informed of the incident immediately, he said.

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