A mother elephant has rescued her calf from drowning in a nearby river by enlisting the help of the herd to the baby out.
Photographer Wesley Wolmarans, 33, captured the dramatic rescue.
The calf appears to be exploring the river’s shallows before falling in and attempting to take a drink,
His head is barely visible above the water as his mother struggles desperately to pull him up with her trunk.
The mother called for assistance, and at least five more herd members responded, successfully rescuing the calf from the creek.
‘We had located the tiny herd, so when they got close enough, I noticed a little kid heading to the other side to take a drink,’ Wesley added. ‘The little one was still too young to use his trunk, so he tried drinking with his mouth.’
‘The youngster fell into the water, and it was deep,’ says one South African native. ‘The mother leaped up and began to panic as the tiny one struggled to keep his head above water.’
The mother was frantic to recover the infant, resulting in a startling and loud trumpet within a second when the entire herd rushed into the water seeking the youngster.
Using their feet and trunks, they were able to search for and push the child against the bank of the river, allowing him to walk out onto the solid ground and exhibiting the terror in his eyes.
The exhausted elephant was saved as the others gathered around him protectively.
‘The mum kept him away from the water after that. I had a pure sense of powerlessness watching the little one fight to keep its head above water,’ Wolmarans said.
‘And then it was a sheer delight when the group succeeded in getting him out safely.
Small elephants may drown in swiftly flowing or deep water.
But the kind of rescue Wolmarans witnessed is common in the wild, with elder herd members keeping an eye on each other’s youngsters.