Indian forest officials use excavators to rescue elephants from deep pond

Six animals became trapped after leaving their forest in Assam to forage for food

A screengrab of the elephants trapped in an irrigation pond in Goalpara district, Assam state, north-east India. Photo: Jitendra Kumar
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Indian forest officials rescued a group of elephants that were stuck in an artificial pond in India’s north-eastern Assam state on Friday.

Ten elephants had come down from the hills in the Lakhipur area of Goalpara district in search of food, before heading to the pond for a dip.

While four managed to come out, six – including a calf – became trapped in the three-metre-deep pond for four hours, forest officials said.

Officials sent excavators to create a path out of the pond, after being alerted about the animals' plight by nearby residents.

“Two excavators were used and the operation lasted till 11pm. They came out safely and went inside the forest,” district forest officer Jitendra Kumar told The National.

The pond was dug by villagers to store water for irrigation but has become a trap for animals. Officials had to rescue two elephants from the pond two months ago.

Mr Kumar said elephants – which are excellent swimmers – become trapped because the rectangular shape and vertical sides of the pond make it difficult for them to climb out.

The pond is close to Bandarmatha Range Forest, home to about 40 elephants. They often stray into villages to forage for food.

Updated: January 29, 2022, 11:57 AM