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Rescuing Elephant using Archimedes’ Law of Floatation

- by Mr. Srikant, DFO Gumla

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An elephant calf accidentally fell inside a 25ft deep well (without a parapet wall around it) in Bantoil of Amliya village in Gumla District (Jharkhand), in late night of 27th January 2020. The elephant struggled a lot to get out of the well, but in vain, and got struck. Local villagers alerted the Forest Department about the incident. But, there were 3 adult elephants in vicinity of the sub-adult elephant & it was risky to send a team in the dark of night. Thus, the team was alerted to wait for the sun to rise, so as to avoid any incident of human-animal conflict.




Forest Department’s Rescue Team, under the leadership of DFO Gumla, reached the spot without much delay. The team decided to apply the Archimedes Principle/Law of Floatation , or the ‘upward buoyant force theory’, to bring the elephant out of the well. The method was innovative, and more efficient & quick than the cumbersome efforts required in digging approach which is usually adopted.

Rescue operations started at around 7am on 28th Jan (Tuesday), and lasted for 3 hours. The rescue team pumped water into the well, using motorised pipes. First the tiredness of calf by gauged by pumping water using 1 motor; and, when it responded by floating, the operation was undertaken at fullest pace. The team used three pumps to fill water in the well and excavated a ramp to help the elephant calf climb out.

As the well was being filled, the floating elephant rose upwards along with the increasing water level.




After the well got almost full, the elephant floated to the top and was able to climb out through the ramp placed for it.




The incident was widely covered in the local & national media. Forest department was praised for its intelligent application of scientific knowledge. It also incurred negligible cost. As a matter of precaution, the modalities of parapet wall construction are being discussed with District Administration.


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