The tusker, trapped in a slushy area of Kumbalam Lake, was pulled out by ropes and straps fastened around its neck

Ayyappan, a 36-year-old-tusker, which was trapped in a slushy area of Kumbalam Lake, met with a tragic end here on Thursday, proving futile a nearly 10-hour-long mission to rescue it.

Ayyappan of Shankarankulangara Temple, Thrissur, was brought for a festival at Kannankottu Devi Temple in Pampayimoola in Edakochi. The tusker panicked and ran into a swamp in the early hours of the day. It got trapped in a slushy area of Kumbalam Lake and sank deeper into the mire as it struggled to extricate itself from the mess. Efforts by mahouts and attendants to drive the animal out of the marsh also proved futile, and it grew weaker as the hours passed by.

Later, one of its mahouts succeeded in tying a rope around its neck to haul it out of the mire. Water was poured on the animal to keep it cool. A crane was brought to the area by noon, and attempts were made to pull it out by the rope and the straps fastened around its neck.

The rescuers eventually succeeded in pulling the tusker out by 2 p.m. However, the long and strenuous efforts to get out of the swamp had taken a toll on the animal’s health. The exhausted animal fell dead within 15 minutes of being pulled out of the swamp.

Oxygen depletion

Anoxia (or a depletion in the level of oxygen) could have caused the death of the animal, said P.B. Giridas, a tranquilising expert associated with the Thrissur veterinary centre, who was part of the rescue mission.

The animal had wounds on its legs and abdomen, and was profusely bleeding. Bleeding or strangulation that occurred during the rescue mission could have caused its death.

The animal had recovered from ‘musth’ just one month ago, he said.

The carcass will be taken to Thrissur and kept there for the public to pay homage. Later, it would be cremated at Valayar after a post-mortem, Mr. Giridas said.

What caused the animal to run into the lake is not known. Police, fire and rescue personnel, elephant squad and the public were part of the rescue mission.

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