* Link to video images (Updates to insert link to video clip)
Nov 1 (Reuters) - Rescuers in Sri Lanka used an excavator to dig a trench and free a wild elephant trapped in a large well, allowing the massive animal to scramble out, wildlife officials said on Wednesday.
The trapped animal trumpeted in distress and swayed its trunk as it tried to reach out of the well, where it was stranded in chest-deep muddy water, video footage of Tuesday’s three-hour rescue showed.
The pachyderm eventually emerged from the well in the northern district of Anuradhapura and headed into the nearby jungle, directed by flares set off by rescuers.
It was not immediately clear how the animal fell into the well.
Elephants in the Indian Ocean nation find their habitat threatened and migratory routes disrupted as more forested areas are cleared for development projects.
The Sri Lankan elephant is an endangered species, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) says on its website, with a surviving population of between 2,500 and 4,000, down nearly 65 percent from the turn of the 19th century.
Writing by Karishma Singh; Editing by Clarence Fernandez