Race against time to rescue a 6-tonne elephant that was hit by a truck after getting lost in traffic in Kerala

An injured six-tonne elephant had to be lifted out of the road using a crane, after he was hit by a truck in Kerala, India.

The 9ft tall animal had escaped from his home at a nearby Hindu temple and was struck as he wandered into a busy main road at dawn on Tuesday last week.

Hundreds of on-lookers gathered to witness the scene as vets tended to the injured elephant.

Easy does it: Vets carefully lay the crane harnesses across and under the injured elephant in preparation of lifting him off the road

It was eventually decided the best course of action was to harness the bull and lift him onto a truck using a crane from a nearby building site.

A senior vet at the scene said: ‘The bull was a worry because of his size and the fact he was quite agitated.

‘We had to assess how he would react to the harnesses being laid under and over him so that we could lift him up and away from the scene.

‘As it turned out the bull was quite used to people as he lives in a nearby Hindu temple from which we can only guess he decided to leave.

Lift-off: The crane slowly pulls up the bull elephant

‘The operation as such was a success and the crowd and myself were extremely happy that we had managed to get him out without too many problems.’

Sadly, despite the efforts to save him, it was discovered the bull had broken bones in his hind legs and back and he died later that evening.

An onlooker said: ‘These accidents are common in India because owners refuse to place reflector lights onto the back of elephants and cows.’

Vet Dr Aravind said: ‘We gave the elephant pain killers because we realised that his bones were broken.

‘Unlike with horses, when elephants suffer such injuries it is illegal in India to put them down and end their suffering.’

Airborne: A nearby truck waits to take the elephant to a nearby vet hospital

Nearly there: The bull is lowered onto the truck. Sadly, despite the massive effort to rescue him, the elephant later died of his injuries