Police officers were charged by elephants while staking out a suspected cannabis farm, dropping an automatic rifle amid the chaos.
The policemen had been camping outside a plantation in Sri Lanka in the hope of catching the alleged marijuana growers.
But the officers were forced to run for their lives as the animals hurtled towards them.
Police are now searching for the T56 automatic assault rifle in the Lunugamvehera nature reserve, 140 miles south of the country’s capital Colombo.
In a statement, police said: “The constables dropped their weapons and fled to save their lives when the elephants charged.”
The incident comes as figures show about 50 people are killed in wild elephant attacks each year in Sri Lanka.
However, about 200 elephants are killed each year by farmers who claim the wild animals stray onto their land and destroy crops.
The killings take place despite the animals, which are considered sacred by some in Sri Lanka, being protected by strict laws.
Latest figures showed elephant numbers in the country had fallen to just over 7,000 – down from an estimated 12,000 in 1900.