Sri Lanka Army

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'Thank You Army, I am Back to the Wild'

A cub elk, fell victim to a mortar attack during the height of LTTE terrorism in Visuamadu, Kilinochchi, nearly two years ago, took leave of its Army caretakers recently and sought its new abode at Wilpattu with the Department of Wildlife Conservation. 

Troops belonging to 7 Sri Lanka Light Infantry (SLLI) Regiment during the peak of the fighting against terrorists came across this cub elk with severe mortar fire injuries sustained while it was desperately lying in a pit, close to an area where pitched battles took place between Army troops and terrorists. The animal was nearly gasping out with its badly infected mortar wounds when it was spotted.  

Soldiers in the thick of heavy fighting, however, managed to rescue the baby animal and safely brought it to their Visuamadu Army camp amidst exchanges of fire. Despite priorities associated with ground offensives, they immediately attended to its wounds and started nursing it until its condition improved and returned to normalcy. Loved by all, the baby elk fast grew up as time passed after recovery, but continued to live with its caretakers without leaving the premises. Finally, it turned out to be the mascot among all soldiers whilst receiving their care and warmth, though it was living an isolated life.

A few days ago, 7 SLLI soldiers during religious ceremonies to mark 18th anniversary of their Regiment, added a different item to day’s agenda at Visuamadu. In consultation with wildlife authorities, they made all arrangements to release their pet back to the wild at Wilpattu National Park as the animal was now fast reaching maturity.

As members of the Maha Sangha continued chanting to bless the anniversary, the Regional Director, Wildlife Department in Vavuniya with his staff received the custodianship of the young elk from the Commanding Officer, Major Anil Somaweera, 7 SLLI battalion. Members of the Maha Sangha spoke high of the Army’s compassion and loving kindness. As its caretakers for more than eighteen months looked on, their eyes filled with tears, the elk started its journey back to the jungles.