A wild elephant that fell into a well at Vengoli in Pudussery, near here, was rescued in the early hours of Saturday, after 20 hours of ordeal.

The elephant from a herd of eight that had strayed into a human settlement fell into the well on Friday midnight as people burst fireworks to scare them away.

The time taken in bringing three Kunki (trained) elephants of the Tamil Nadu Forest Department from Parambikulam delayed the rescue. A large crowd that had assembled in the area blocked the roads to the site and the police had to use force to keep people at bay and allow the elephants in.

The three elephants pulled the stricken animal out through a path cut to the bottom of the well, which was by then sucked dry using water pumps. The elephant was later released into the nearby Walayar forest.

'Elephant Police' scheme

The Elephant Lovers' Association demanded that the State Forest Department implement the “Elephant Police” scheme of the Union government under Project Elephant. The programme helps train the 22 captive elephants with the department to drive away wild elephants that raid farms near the forest areas. The programme was started in 2000 and States such as Tamil Nadu had implemented it.

But the Kerala government had not even applied for the scheme, V.K. Venkitachalam, secretary of the association, said. The captive elephants could be used in emergency rescue operations also, he added.