Quite an unexpected combination: Tourists turn rescue teams to pull the baby elephant to safety as it slowly sinks into the swamp

Quite an unexpected combination: Tourists turn rescue teams to pull the baby elephant to safety as it slowly sinks into the swamp

A baby elephant was rescued with just minutes to spare after spending over 12 hours stuck in a mudpool.

The young bull was spotted with mud up to its neck by a group of tourists on safari along the Zambezi River in Africa.

When the rescue team arrived it became apparent that they needed to act quickly as the baby pachyderm struggled to free its trunk and was close to drowning.

Mud-dled up: The young elephant was spotted sinking into the marshland by tourists on safari along the Zambezi River in Africa

Bradley White and his wife Annelize, owners of the nearby Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe heard the call for help over the radio and immediately came to the aid of the young elephant.

After gathering a rescue team, they made several attempts to pull it from the mud before eventually setting it free.

Mr White said it was likely the elephant had become trapped the evening before and after surviving for more than 12 hours wouldn’t have lasted much longer.

He said: ‘Elephants are particularly drawn to these areas and when moving towards the luscious vegetation they become stuck and sink deep into the mud, causing them to dehydrate and loose blood circulation to their legs.’

Sticky situation: The baby elephant was found after 12 hours, stuck with mud up to his neck

Mission begins: Bradley White helps tie the ropes around the elephant’s neck after wetting the mud

Lifesavers: When the rope is secured, the team begins to pull the five-year-old bull elephant out of the mud

‘If they’re not found these animals will eventually die or be eaten alive by vultures, hyenas or any other predator that may be drawn to the petrified screams and bellows for help.

‘When we arrived on the scene it was apparent that the young elephant had been trapped in the early hours of the evening before.

‘Amazingly he survived at least twelve and a half hours of this tragedy before being seen.

Battle: The elephant is fighting to get out of the mudpool as the rescue team pulls him by the neck

One-two-three-pull: It took an entire team to turn the elephant around in the mud before they could attach the ropes to a ca

Desperate: The poor creature fought for his life but struggled to summon the energy after 12 hours in the mud

The Whites and their recovery team used 200 litres of water to cool the baby elephant and to soften the mud which had begun to harden under the hot sun.

‘We also had to soften the mud that surrounded him in order to pull him gently without damaging his legs as they were well trapped by fast drying clay.

‘Initially we couldn’t use the car as the elephant was facing the wrong direction and by pulling him backwards we risked a chance of injury to the young bull.

‘We had to pull him by hand for the first part of the ordeal so we could shift his weight and have him facing the vehicle for an easier recovery.’

Reward: Annelize and Bradley try to motivate the elephant to make one last push by offering it treats

Nearly there: Motivated by the nuts in Annelize’s hand, the baby elephant managed to get its leg unstuck

A shower in my mud bath: Mud is washed from the elephant’s face and eyes by throwing water over it

Finally out: Stretching its legs the elephant is a big shaky – but safe

‘The only safe place to put the rope is around his neck. Elephants have a very strong neck that can take a lot of strain. If we had tried to pull him out by any part of his legs which eventually become exposed, we risked breaking them.

‘When he was finally free and lay on the solid ground we had to act fast and get him to his feet, to allow the blood to circulate.

‘Towing straps were placed under his belly and with our team off staff we heaved him to his feet manually.

‘So far the baby is doing well and although he is very young he is able to look after himself.

‘We are keeping an eye on him though to make sure he doesn’t get into any more sticky situations.’


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