A rampaging elephant burst into a house in India on Monday, smashing the walls and terrifying the family inside, who were just sitting down to dinner. But when the elephant heard a 10-month-old baby crying under the debris, he began to carefully pick up bits of stone and mortar with his trunk, gently uncovering the infant while her parents watched.
"We ran over and were shocked to see the wall in pieces and a tusker standing over our baby," Dipak Mahato, the baby's father, told the Times of India (elephants are also called "tuskers" in India). "She was crying and there were huge chunks of the wall lying all around and on the cot. The tusker started moving away but when our child started crying again, it returned and used its trunk to remove the debris."
The elephant soon retreated to the forest, and the couple took their infant to a nearby hospital, where she was treated for external injuries but is expected to make a full recovery.
According to local forest ranger Samir Bose, this isn't the first time this elephant has smashed a house:
It has damaged at least 17 houses in Mathadi, Kasidih and Ghoshra village areas while the 18-member herd has only damaged crops in the field, Bose said. The man-elephant conflict in these parts has risen over the past few years because of change in land-use pattern that has blocked the elephants' traditional migration routes. Herds routinely raid farms and villages and smash houses. Bose said it is very hard to monitor the movement of a lone elephant. Another herd of 18 elephants is roaming in nearby Hensa forest.