Saving a Baby Elk: A Sri Lanka Navy Mission

A Tale now Etched within the latest Newsletter of the Australia-Sri Lanka Association of Adelaide edited by Moira Djukanovic







On information of an Elk and her injured baby calf roaming the Naval Dockyard jungles, a medical party along with a specialized trekking team from the elite Special Boat Squadron was detailed to locate the animal and obtain more information to ascertain how best we could help. These animals along with many more are an integral part of the Naval Dockyard flora and fauna and the Navy certainly goes that extra mile in the conservation of this nature reserve which is highly regarded by all personnel who have had the privilege to have served then and now.

After many hours of trekking this team was able to locate the animal deep inside the Elephant Point jungle and it was observed that the baby calf was having immense difficulty in moving her left foot; owing to a possible injury in the ankle part and due to her inability to move fast, s/he was definitely vulnerable to the wild dogs in the area. Although the Mother Elk was around, she certainly would not be able to protect the injured calf from these ferocious dogs. A decision was immediately taken and these specially trained men, although accomplished to handle the most ruthless enemy in hostile terrain, laid out a plan to isolate and corner the calf Elk and apprehend the animal in the most delicate move they had ever planned in the jungle.

Their stealthy move along with highly professional camouflage and concealment tactics took the calf and mother by surprise, hence they did not have much time to react. The lightning speed in overpowering a wild animal in its own den successfully will certainly make their instructors happy. With the baby calf well secured in the sailor’s arms the team commenced their journey back and was surprised to see the mother Elk gently following them out of the jungle.  Certainly being a long standing resident of the Dockyard jungles, she may have been well aware of the nature loving members of the Navy’s Special Boat Squadron and realised that her Calf was in safe and protected hands. The calf Elk was brought to a makeshift location near the Dockyard Hospital and with the arrival of a Veterinary Doctor the necessary medical attention commenced.

During this time, to the surprise of all those present, the most amazing and heart touching event took place. As you can see above, whilst the calf Elk was undergoing medical treatment with the assistance of the Veterinarian and the naval medical staff, the mother Elk was only a few feet away observing the whole procedure: her body language was quite noteworthy with her anxiety displayed in that her tail was straight up. She was bold enough to be amongst the crowd and it was quite apparent that motherly love took precedence above all, as she was not willing to budge away from the makeshift open-air hospital bed where some strange men with all kinds of equipment and tools were meddling with her beloved offspring.  The constant eye contact she maintained with her calf on the hospital bed was a moving scene observed by all and for the medical staff
involved it looked like a specialist consultant supervising their work. After almost two hours of medical care the calf was taken away for recuperation accompanied by mother elk. During this whole process the constant attention and unbelievable boldness of the mother Elk was heart-warming to all the medical staff present and speaks well of the love and affection that animals share –something that is becoming a rare commodity in humans.

That ended an eventful day: it may have been the first time ever that a Veterinary
Doctor provided medical assistance under the watchful eye of an Elk for almost two hours until he finished the operation.

Subsequently on many occasions the Calf Elk has been spotted roaming around and it appears that she has fully recovered…………………….. EUREKA.



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One response to “Saving a Baby Elk: A Sri Lanka Navy Mission

  1. EMAIL COMMENT from JAYANTHA DE SILVA SAMARASINGHE in Queensland, 3 December 2021:
    “Hi Michael Roberts, …………..
    This is an amazing and heart warming incident — quite different from your normal writing in politics and history, but one which educates me immensely. This elk story and potential attacks by wild dogs reminds me of an incident when we were In a picnic in the Adelaide woods near your place: and an ostrich came and forcibly grabbed our lunch from our hands and from the table. I never experienced that before – What they can do with their long necks and the heights they can reach ….. Taller than a standing man some of them !

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