Driving through the plains of Amboseli National Park in Kenya last month, park rangers began to hear a loud trumpet-like cry reverberating through the area: a sure sign that someone was in trouble.
When they followed the cry, they soon found the source. A baby elephant got stuck inside a watering hole – and his mother couldn’t get him out on her own.
With just a few minutes until nightfall, rangers began trying to remove the calf on their own while waiting for rescuers from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) to arrive.
“They came to hand-pick the calf [and] his worried mother emerged from a nearby bush and charged the team,” DSWT said. “She chased them away before returning to guard.”
Fortunately, by the time DSWT rescuers arrived on the scene, the mother was gone – this would give them a chance to rescue the baby safely.
Rescue crews jumped into action to lift him out of the water. In total, it took five men to pull the babies out – while two more kept watch in case the anxious mother tried to chase them away again.
No one knows how long the calf was stuck there, but he wasn’t really exhausted after the whole ordeal. He got up right away, and rescuers put him in an ambulance to try to locate his mother.
“Thankfully, she was discovered less than a kilometer away with her trunk protruding above the bushes, trying to smell her calf,” DSWT said. “She quickly started moving at [fast] speed towards the vehicle, at which point the team stopped at a safe distance and unloaded their precious cargo, who blew another loud trumpet.”
The tantrum mom was overjoyed to finally see her baby safe – and was ready to say goodbye to the rescuers. With a last-ditch effort on the part of the rescuers, the mother returned to her calf’s side and left.
Since many of the calves DSWT found alone were orphaned by po.ach.ing, this reunion is certainly a cause for celebration.
“Reunions like these are the best story,” the rescuers said. “It’s always a great joy when things work out as they should, and on this day, fortunately, the mother bravely turned back just when she thought all hope was lost.”