A baby elephant has been rescued with just a few minutes to spare after spending more than 12 hours stuck in a muddy puddle.
A group of tourists on a safari trip along the Zambezi River in Africa discovered a young bull covered in mud up to its neck.
When the rescue team arrived, it became clear that they needed to act quickly because the baby pachyderm was trying to free itself and nearly drowned.
Bradley White and his wife Annelize, owners of Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, heard the cry for help over the radio and immediately came to save the baby elephant.
After assembling a rescue team, they made several attempts to pull it out of the mud before finally releasing it.
Mr. White said it was likely the elephant had been stuck the previous evening and that after surviving more than 12 hours would not last much longer.
He said: ‘Elephants are particularly attracted to these areas, and as they move towards the luscious vegetation, they become stuck and sink deep into the mud, causing them to dehydrate and lose blood circulation to their legs.’
‘If they are not found, these animals will eventually d.i.e or be eaten alive by vultures, hyenas, or any other predator that might be attracted by the screams and petrified blows for help.
‘When we arrived at the scene, it became apparent that the baby elephant had been stuck in the early hours of the previous evening.
‘It was amazing that he survived at least 12 and a half hours of this tragedy before being seen.
The Whites and their recovery team used 200 liters of water to cool the baby elephant and soften the mud that had begun to harden in the heat.
‘We also had to soften the mud around him to pull him gently without damaging his legs as they were stuck by the quick-drying clay.
‘We were initially unable to use the vehicle as the elephant was facing the wrong direction and by pulling it backward, we risked a chance of injury to the young bull.
‘We had to pull him by hand for the first part of the challenge so we could shift his weight and have him face the car for easier recovery.’
‘The only safe place to tie a rope is around his neck. Elephants have a powerful neck, which can take a lot of pressure. If we tried to pull him off with any part of his leg that ended up being exposed, we risked breaking them.
‘When he was finally free and lying on firm ground, we had to act fast and get him to his feet to get the blood circulating.
‘The traction straps were placed under his stomach, and with our staff, we lifted him to his feet by hand.
‘So far, the baby is doing well, and despite being very young, he can take care of himself.
‘However, we are monitoring him to make sure he doesn’t get into any more difficult situations.’