A baby elephant that was completely coated in mud and barely discernable has been rescued and reunited with its mother after travelers noticed its tiny trunk moving around.
The calf was discovered by tourists on a tour of Tsavo East National Park in Kenya, where its flowing trunk was the only indication of life. It is believed to have been trapped deep in the muddy pit for many hours. Its mother may have already attempted and failed to save her kid.
The calf was rescued by a team from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), assisted by the DSWT/KWS Anti-Poaching Unit, using straps to haul it to safety.
The crew spent 30 minutes attempting to free the elephant from its muddy cage, but they finally succeeded.
“It was obvious that the calf had been there for a long time,” said Angela Sheldrick, DSWT’s president.
The calf is still alive. The mother, clearly exhausted by the effort to save her calf, had ab.ando.ned it and gone away after long churning up the mud in a fruitless attempt to recover it.
“As the groups began to approach the waterhole, a lone female elephant emerged from the area where everyone was gathered and circled cautiously from afar, her head held high and tail flapping in the air. She was immediately identified as the mother.
“She began to charge the men, concerned by what might be happening to her stricken baby.
Fortunately, this was more posturing than a demonstration of genuine intent, and she seemed to think assistance might be on the way.”
“The teams worked quickly, fastening straps around the baby, who was knee-deep in the mud, heaving and pulling until they were able to pull him toward the harder edges of the waterhole, eventually extracting the stuck little baby completely.
“By this time, the mother realized that her calf was being assisted, and when he was able to stand on his own, he raced to her side. “It was a joyful reunion, and he started to suckle immediately as the rest of the herd returned in celebration.
Of course, these are the best sort of tales, the ones with such happy endings, and the DSWT teams take great pleasure in being able to rescue these newborns and return them to their distressed moms.
We have been in a position to handle many such circumstances over the years, successfully reuniting calves with their mothers and families.
“It’s not always feasible, but when things work out as they should, it’s always fantastic. And on this day, thankfully, the mother bravely returned just when she thought all hope was lost.”