A 42-year-old elephant jumped off a truck in the middle of the night to escape captivity in Thuravoor, India, and then went on a rampage before becoming trapped in a muddy bog for nearly 18 hours.
The elephant known as Mullackal Balakrishnan belongs to Alappuzha Mullackal Rajarajeswari temple under the Travancore Devaswom Board. It was being transported back to the temple from the seven-day Thiruvonam festival. The elephant broke free from the truck at 3:30 a.m. Tuesday when the driver stopped to have some tea, according to The New Indian Express.
The elephant, dragging its chains behind him, proceeded to leave a 4-mile path of destruction as it wrecked an auto-rickshaw, an electric post and compound walls of several houses before finding itself stuck in the mud.
After 16 hours of trying, personnel from several government agencies along with more than 30 mahouts made one final effort to rescue the elephant, pulling it free from the swamp at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Veterinarians injected the elephant with glucose throughout the ordeal to save its life and administered more medicine to revive its strength once it was freed from the bog.
It wasn't known whether the elephant would be returned to its owners, who violated several rules for transporting and caring for elephants, according another report by The New Indian Express.
V.K. Venkitachalam, secretary of the Heritage Animal Task Force, told The New Indian Express that the elephant "did not get enough sleep or food" during the seven-day festival and was not transported properly.
The truck needed to have a barricade in the truck to prevent the movement of the elephant once it was loaded and elephants are allowed to be transported only from 6 to 8 a.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m., according to rules by the Forest and Wildlife Department. Plus, a mahout must be present with the elephant and a light fixed on the truck bed, neither of which was done.
"The lack of food, water and sleep caused the elephant to go berserk and destroy the barricade [at the back of the truck]," Venkitachalam told The New Indian Express. "Once it was trapped, it quickly got exhausted. Only the glucose administered by veterinary doctors helped it survive. The muddy marsh water may have also entered its trunk, compounding its problems."
The most egregious infraction, however, was using the elephant at the festival in the first place.
"The elephant has killed more than five mahouts and a woman worker of the temple," Venkitchalam said. "It has also lost sight in one eye. Rules discourage parading of such elephants. By giving permission to parade the elephant, the district administration and Forest Department also violated the rules."
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