An elk “rescues” an elderly lady in Estonia

Thanks to an elk, a 71-year-old missing lady was found alive near the Estonian town of Paide.

The Estonian newspaper, Postimees, reports that an elk who caught the eye of a nature photographer, triggered a chain of events that led to the finding of a woman who had wandered around the forest for over a day and had become so weak that she couldn’t move out from the bottom of a ditch she had got stuck to.

A brown animal

On Tuesday morning, a local nature photographer Marko Haug went for a walk by his hometown Paide’s artificial lake and noticed a big brown animal from a distance. “I noticed a big brown animal body on the road lying down, occasionally as if turning its head. It was hard to tell if it was a bear or an elk – both have been seen around here. At first, I didn’t dare to go any closer, suspecting it might be a bear. I called another nature photographer, Jan Vuti, in the hope he might be nearby and would want to take a picture. He said immediately that it would probably be an elk,” Haug told Postimees.

Haug added that looking at how events turned out, it was good that he had left his camera at home, otherwise he would have immediately photographed the animal from a distance and left. Instead, he was soon joined by his mate, the nature photographer Vuti, who came to see the place indicated in the phone call, but the animal was gone – only the tracks left behind indicated it had been a large elk.

Finding a missing lady instead

But instead of the elk, the two men noticed an elderly lady in the nearby muddy ditch. The lady had run completely out of energy and was lying hopelessly in the mud. Had she not been found, she would have not survived for long as the weather was wet and the air temperature was around 10°C (50°F). “Fortunately, she was wearing a thick coat, probably thanks to that she lasted so long,” Haug said.

The men called the emergency number and led the arriving ambulance and police staff to the scene.

“The most incredible thing about this story is that the elk stayed put in exactly the same place where the old lady was lying in the ditch – as if signalling or drawing attention,” Haug said.

The police are thankful

A representative of the regional police force told Postimees that the 71-year-old woman had left home on Monday and was reported missing on Tuesday morning.

“The police received information from her loved ones that the woman liked to walk by the artificial lake of Paide and went to inspect the area. At the same time, two nature photographers were moving around the area, noticing an animal in the area that they were trying to capture, but found the missing woman in the same place,” the police representative said. “The woman was able to communicate but was unable to move on her own. The photographers immediately called the emergency and an ambulance took the woman, who had already been outside for a day and had a cold, to the hospital.”

The police also thanked the photographers. “The nature trip of these men culminated in saving a life.”

Cover: An elk. The image is illustrative. Photo shared under the Creative Commons 3.0 licence.

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