Elephant saved from Thai canal in mammoth rescue effort has 50-50 chance of survival: Vet

Teams of rescuers, villagers and civilians spent almost six hours moving Tara the elephant from the bank of the Chompu canal into the truck, so that it could be taken to an elephant hospital.
Teams of rescuers, villagers and civilians spent almost six hours moving Tara the elephant from the bank of the Chompu canal into the truck, so that it could be taken to an elephant hospital. PHOTO: THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A 15-year-old male elephant rescued from a muddy canal in Thailand's northern Phitsanulok province has only a 50-50 chance of survival due to its broken legs, a veterinarian said.

Rescuers on Thursday (Oct 19) lifted the elephant using two big backhoes, placed it in a truck and took it to an elephant hospital in Lampang province, which is located about 180km away.

The teams of rescuers, villagers and civilians had spent almost six hours moving the animal 300m from the bank of the Chompu canal into the truck.

The mammoth task was made even more difficult by the wet soil and the weight of the elephant as it could not stand by itself.

The elephant, now named "Tara" or water, was spotted in the canal close to Thungsalangluang National Park, on Wednesday. Attempts to rescue Tara failed on Wednesday due to strong currents and its reluctance to be assisted.

Rescue teams spent about 26 hours before being able to pull it out of the canal on Thursday.

Tara is believed to be from the national park and got separated from its mother during the flash flood that swept it down the canal.

Dr Taweechoke Angkawani of the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre in Lampang said that Tara has only a 50-50 chance of survival because both its hind legs appear to have broken bones and were not usable.

"If the elephant cannot stand on its feet, the chance of survival is very slim. I think the chance is 50-50 as it appears to be about 15 years old. If it were younger, say about 10 years old, it would have a better chance," he said. However, he said his team would do its best to help the animal.

After being pulled out of the river, Tara appeared exhausted and just laid on the ground, after having withstood the strong water currents in the canal for a long period. The veterinary team gave it bottles of saline water and drugs to boost its energy.

Dr Taweechoke said the team would attempt to cure the elephant's symptoms and monitor its condition.