Once in a while, a group of humans will do something that can restore our faith in humanity. On Tuesday, July 11, the Sri Lanka Navy carried out an amazing animal rescue, saving an elephant from drowning in the deep sea where it had been swept out by strong currents.

The animal was spotted by a navy patrol boat ten miles out to sea. It had been trying to cross the Kokkilai lagoon in the northeast region of Sri Lanka. elephants can usually wade or swim across the water which separates two forested areas. They have been observed taking this short cut regularly.

On this day, however, the animal was unlucky and got caught up in the strong currents.

Navy to the rescue

Luckily for the elephant, however, it was spotted by the navy patrol boat, as it struggled to stay five miles from land afloat. Video footage from Sri Lankan TV stations shows the animal trying to keep its trunk in the air to avoid drowning. Reinforcements arrived, and navy divers swam out alongside the elephant to tie ropes around it. The boats then gently towed it to shallow waters.

The entire effort took twelve hours. The elephant was exhausted by the time it reached the shore, but again, luckily, wildlife officials had been alerted to its plight. They were able to provide the medical care it needed.

The beast has been named Alliya Pulmoddai and is being looked after by the Department of Wildlife in Yan Oya, Pulmodai.

A miraculous escape

Sri Lankan elephants have been recognized as an endangered species since 1986. Their numbers have declined sharply due to habitat loss and deterioration. The Kokkilai lagoon is fed by multiple streams that run into the Indian Ocean.

It is home to a bird sanctuary as well as Asian elephants.

Navy spokesman Chaminda Walakuluge described the rescue as miraculous. This is the second rescue involving large mammals and the Sri Lankan navy in the space of just a few weeks. On May 31, navy personnel and residents near Trincomalee helped to push a pod of 20 stranded pilot whales back into deeper waters.

The concern that the navy personnel showed for the elephant and the whales is a heartening sign of the bond that still exists between humans and nature, even though our current lifestyles seem bent on destroying the Natural World. These dramatic rescues, where the rescuers saved the animals heedless of their safety, illustrate the possibility of a different way of relating to animals and the natural world.