An Asian elephant has been dramatically rescued off Sri Lanka coast after being swept out to sea. Dramatic footage shows the struggling creature being saved by the Sri Lankan Navy in a remarkable 12 hour effort. The elephant was partly submerged and using its trunk as a snorkel to breathe.

According to the Agence France-Presse, which first reported the story, Sri Lankan navy officials believe the animal was pulled out to sea while trying to cross the Kokkilai lagoon. The lagoon lies in the middle of an animal sanctuary and sits between two stretches of jungle the elephant may have been trying to pass.”They usually wade through shallow waters or even swim across to take a short cut,” one official told AFP. While they can swim for fairly long periods of time, they will tire if not able to rest. Navy officials intervened, claiming the swimming would have caused the elephant to burn too much energy to survive and that the prolonged exposure to saltwater could have damaged the elephant’s skin.

Under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Asian elephants are classified as endangered and have faced significant threats from logging and loss of habitat. Most males and females in this species lack noticeable tusks, leading some to believe they face fewer threats from poaching; however, many are hunted for their meat and leather. Since the turn of the century, Sri Lankan elephant populations have fallen by almost 65 percent thanks to an increase in deforestation on the island. Currently, the elephants are protected under Sri Lankan law, where killing one results in steep penalties.

Facts aside the other truth is this. The plea from the beleaguered animal kingdom in The Earth Emperor’s Eye is ‘Out of the depths I cried unto the’ so perhaps the elephants predicament was no freak of nature but an act of nature to draw attention to the plight of Mother Nature’s kingdom? What’s more, elephants are used symbolically in the tale to highlight the great untouchable debate in world politics – the elephant in the room – what to do to stop the unsustainable growth in human population. And then there’s the ace card. SPOILER ALERT! In The Earth Emperor”s Eye Captain Richard Lewin of the Royal Navy is dead assumed lost at sea to the despair of his beloved Kate, but, miraculously he is rescued from his watery grave by the mercy of the Earth Emperor and his benevolent aides. 

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