Last week, the desperate calf was discovered trapped at the bottom of a ditch near the village of Thattekad. The night before, locals had heard the trumpeting of the calf's family, likely as they struggled in vain to free the young animal from his predicament themselves.
By morning, forest officials were on the scene with a crew to help. Using an excavator, they carved a channel in the steep earthen walls, allowing the young elephant to climb out on his own. It's what happened next, however, that elicited the biggest cheers from those who made it possible.
After the exhausted calf stumbled out, his family rushed in from the surrounding forest to meet him. Before returning back to the forest, one elephant, believed to be the calf's mother, could be seen pausing — then turning back to face the rescuers, raising her trunk to them as if to salute their efforts.