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Elephant Stranded at Sea Rescued by Sri Lankan Navy

The Sri Lankan Navy was carrying out their routine patrol early Tuesday morning when they came across an elephant swimming aimlessly in the ocean, nine miles away from dry land.

sri lankan navy

Sri Lankan Navy

The Sri Lankan Navy immediately launched a rescue operation, dubbed as “Jumbo” rescue mission, involving three more Navy vessels as well as a team of divers and officials from the Department of Wildlife.

According to a report released by the Sri Lanka Navy, the Wildlife officials provided instructions on how to successfully carry out the mission.

The rescue group carefully guided the elephant to the shore by using ropes and once the animal was back on dry land, the Navy promptly handed over the elephant to the officials of the wildlife office.

Sri Lankan Navy

Sri Lankan Navy

A highlight video of the dramatic 12-hour rescue mission went viral, garnering thousands of views and shares.

In an interview, Sri Lankan Navy Spokesman Chaminda Walakuluge shared that the accident may have occurred while the elephant was crossing the Kokkilai lagoon. The elephant may have been caught in a riptide during this time.

They usually wade through shallow waters or even swim across take a shortcut. It is miraculous escape for the elephant,” Walakuluge said.

After watching the video, Joyce Poole, the co-founder of the Elephant Voices, told the Washington Post that the elephant looked tired probably from trying to stay afloat for a long time.

Sri Lankan Navy

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Poole also added that “elephants are considered the best swimmers of any land mammal, excluding trained human swimmers” but they are often in danger because of their natural swimming talent.

“I well remember flying in the early 1990s over barren and deserted islands off the Kenyan coast near the Somali border and seeing the bones of elephants that had been killed there, clearly they swam from the mainland to the island only to meet their deaths there,” recalled Poole.

The Sri Lankan elephant is considered the national animal of Sri Lanka and is now declared an endangered species. A person could receive the death penalty for killing the animals.

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