A Scots couple survived a series of serious near misses on their way to coming in first on a four-day rickshaw race which took place through the remote jungles of Madhya Pradesh, India.

Puneet and Poonam Gupta, from Kilmacolm in Renfrewshire, are just back from their hair-raising 500km charity adventure, which raised funds to save Asia’s endangered elephants.

On the first day their motorised rickshaw, known as a Tuk Tuk, suffered a high-speed blow-out and only luck prevented them from crashing into a ditch at 65km an hour.

Barely an hour later, having replaced the front tyre, they suffered another blow-out, once again only narrowly avoiding injury.

Several other competitors among the 35 teams had not been so fortunate.

One lady who was involved in a similar accident suffered a broken leg in several different places. She is highly unlikely ever to walk normally again.

Yasmin Le Bon and her daughter Amber were forced to quit after Yasmin suffered a broken collar bone, bad scratches and bruises. They were among others involved in serious incidents that day.

There were further withdrawals on day three, as road injuries began to take their toll.

On day four, the Guptas, who own one of Scotland’s most successful and leading exporting companies, Greenock-based PG Paper, lost their way on a remote jungle road.

They were fast running out of petrol and, as they pondered their options, they were joined by two Iranian brothers in another Tuk Tuk who were also lost.

As darkness began to fall, the two teams formed a convoy and at a crossroad spied a local man sitting outside a hut. He provided a litre of fuel at a vastly inflated price and gave them directions towards their destination.

When they finally arrived at the finish line in Camp Kipling, Puneet and Poonam were astonished to discover they were the first team home, with the rest of the field at least an hour behind.

Puneet said: “I’ve been to India hundreds of times on business but I had never seen this side of it.

“We met some amazing people, including many locals. Some of them work full time for as little as 30p a day, yet their constant smiles and good-natured curiosity left us feeling humble.

“The jungle was immense yet scary at times thanks to spiders, tigers and snakes.

“We were delighted to raise such a substantial amount of money for “Elephant Family”, the charity founded by the conservationist and Duchess of Cornwall’s brother, the late Mark Shand.

“Asian elephants are amongst the world’s most magnificent and threatened species. Massive habitat loss has resulted in their numbers plummeting by 90% in the past 100 years.

“There is also a linked human tragedy unfolding. The threatened elephants are being forced to search further afield for new habitat and this has led to elephant/human conflict with fatalities on both sides.

“The money raised will be used to secure a protected habitat for the elephants and this in turn will support local communities and help end the encroachment on these families.”