A Dramatic Rescue in Kenya
While its mother watches, a baby elephant is pulled from a well
PHOTO: Mother elephants have particularly strong feelings of affection for their calves. (Rex Features via AP Images)
MAP: The Amboseli Trust for Elephants has been studying African elephants at the Amboseli National Park since 1972. (Jim McMahon)
A frantic mother watched as rescuers freed her trapped baby from a muddy well. After being pulled from the well, the baby joyfully ran to its relieved mom as the rescuers took a much-needed break.
It was a difficult and potentially dangerous rescue: The baby was an 8-month-old elephant, and its mother initially thought the humans were trying to harm it. The calf fell into the five-foot-deep well near Kenya’s Amboseli National Park on October 8. Local Maasai tribesmen had dug the well for water.
It took 30 minutes to remove the trapped elephant. While Vicki Fishlock of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants made a high-pitched yell to scare the mother away, two men struggled to get a rope around the calf. Once the rope was in place, Fishlock used her Land Rover to pull the baby out.
Fishlock recognized Zombe, the mother of the trapped elephant, from a mark on her ear. She believes Zombe eventually realized the humans were trying to help.
“Rescues where [the elephant’s] family members are around are always stressful, and I’m always happy when everyone is [safe],” Fishlock told the Associated Press. “The reunions always bring a tear to my eye. The intensity of their affection for each other is one of the things that makes elephants so special.”
The very next day, another baby elephant fell into the same well. The 3-month-old calf’s family had been driven away from the area by the Maasai. Once the second baby had been rescued, the Amboseli Trust had to send it to an elephant orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city.
ELEPHANTS IN DANGER
The calf rescues highlighted the plight of elephants across Africa. Elephants are fighting to survive, as expanding human settlements are increasing the number of conflicts between the animals and humans. Thousands of elephants are also being killed for their ivory tusks. The tusks are sold in Asia, where ivory trinkets are in high demand.
The Amboseli Trust has been studying elephants and trying to help them since 1972. After millions of people watched video footage of the rescue of Zombe’s calf online last week, Fishlock told Yahoo News, “We hope [this rescue] persuades people that elephants are special and deserve to be protected and cherished.”