Traveling with backup
You’ll often find with animals in the wild that they’re never alone. Many animals, including lions, wolves, and giraffes, like to travel around in a pack. Usually, this is because of their protective instinct.
Would you think about approaching a whole herd of wild animals? Probably not. With elephants, though, it’s much more of a social thing. One elephant alone is hard to take down, so they don’t exactly have to worry about being attacked on their own. Adults can reach heights of 10 feet, and weigh over 6 tons, which is pretty intimidating if you’re another animal in the wild. While they may travel in packs, though, they don’t always stick together.
It’s usually the female elephants who stick together, along with their young. The males tend to abandon the herd in search of females once they’re the right age. Due to the motherly influence in the packs, there’s usually a strong feeling of family that is difficult for anyone to sever.
Never By Choice
You’ll never find a female elephant abandoning her child by choice, although sometimes they’re put in situations where there’s nothing they can do. That’s what happened to one young elephant in South Africa, who was abandoned by the rest of its pack when danger approached them. Terrified and alone, it was left to fend for itself when something unexpected happened.
This unusual situation came about after the pack found themselves by one of the area’s natural pools. Living in the African heat, it’s essential for elephants to stay hydrated, which is why the animal usually populates these places. As well as water, these pools have an abundance of mud which a lot of the younger elephants enjoy rolling around in. The mud acts as a coolant under the intense sunshine and keeps them from overheating. However, playing around in these pools can have dangerous consequences.
Stuck in the mud
When it came time to leave the vicinity, one young elephant found themselves trapped in the mud. No matter how hard it tried, it couldn’t escape from its confines. The pack wasn’t about to leave one of its own struggling in the mud, so several of the adults tried to push the calf out from the back. However, despite their strength, their efforts were also in vain. The young elephant remained stuck in the mud, with virtually no progress being made. Was it possible to get them out?
Calling in reinforcements
The pack wasn’t going to give up. They called for reinforcements, and pretty soon the whole herd was standing around the pool doing what they could to help out the struggling infant. Even as a pack, though, they couldn’t pull the calf from the mud. The older elephants were growing frustrated with their inability to free their young, but little did they know that trouble was brewing. The calls they’d made to each other to try and help out the calf had attracted the attention of something else.
Here comes trouble
The elephants didn’t know how to react when a jeep full of men started driving towards them. The car was going around in circles trying to break them up, but the pack was defiant. They didn’t know who these strangers were, but they weren’t afraid to take them on. Had one of their young not been trapped in the mud, they might have all made a break for it. However, even when faced with danger, they weren’t going to leave one of their own behind.
Watching from afar
As the tense showdown between the elephants and the men in the jeep raged on, a couple of tourists watched from afar. They’d encountered the elephants while they’d been relaxing by the pools, but kept their distance. One of them could have easily squashed them, let alone a whole pack, and they didn’t want to disturb the animals. Even when the calf had gotten trapped in the mud, they’d had to keep their distance in case they upset the pack. All they could do was watch as the action unfolded.
As the men in the jeep continued to terrify the animals, the younger ones buckled. Unsure of what was happening and terrified of being hurt, they started to flee. As the other calves began to run away, the adults were stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, they couldn’t leave the trapped calf to fend for itself. On the other, the rest of their pack were dispersing, and they needed to all stay together. They had a difficult decision to make.
Reluctantly, the rest of the pack moved away, leaving the trapped calf all alone. Already scared, the young elephant was frantic with worry and tried hard to get away. All the while, the men in the car kept driving closer until they stopped by the side of the pools. The animal had no idea what to do. These strange men who had successfully scared off their entire pack were now coming straight for them. The question is, were there intentions good or bad?
Here to help
Fortunately for the calf, the men meant it no harm. They were rangers with the Elephant Park who had heard the pack’s distress calls. They’d had to scare the other elephants away from the scene. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been able to get close and lend a hand. While their intentions were good, though, they weren’t sure of the best way to help the calf out of its predicament. One of the men jumped into the mud and tried lifting the animal up, but it was too heavy.
When that failed to work, they tried using a rope to get the animal out. They tied it to the calf’s legs and pulled, but again to no success. Even as a baby, the elephant was still incredibly heavy. Not sure what else to try, the rangers started patting the mud to see if it would help the calf get more movement. Just when they thought they were out of options, the elephant showed signs of breaking free. Before they knew it, the calf was out of the mud.
Although the calf was now free, the rangers couldn’t just let it run off. It had no idea where the rest of its pack was and could end up in more danger if left to its own devices. So, the rangers decided to bring the young elephant with them and look after it until its pack made a reappearance. To ensure that it didn’t go running off, the men tied the calf to a tree with a rope, essentially trapping it again after it had just escaped from the mud.
The elephant was not a fan of being stuck yet again. So used to the freedom of the wild, the calf didn’t know how to cope with restrictions. It lashed out at its confines, trying as hard as it could to escape from the rope. If it had been slightly older, it probably would have been able to pull the tree down with all the effort it put in. However, still being young, the animal’s attempts were unsuccessful. It was trapped, and there was nothing it could do about it
Eventually, the calf managed to calm itself down, but it was still wary of its human companions. The animal was missing its pack terribly and didn’t know how to cope without them. The rangers wanted to help put it at ease, but their presence alone was already causing the animal a lot of undue stress. If it didn’t reunite with the rest of its family soon, it would likely end up lashing out again. The rangers needed to find a way to get the calf back home.
Calling a truce
To help keep the calf calm and friendly, the rangers provided it with some water. They figured that one of the reasons the animal might be so stressed was because it was thirsty. It had been trapped in the mud for hours and hadn’t had anything to drink since before then. With the heat in Africa so intense, the elephant was probably in desperate need of rehydration. They presented a bowl of water to the calf and hoped for the best. Its reaction was immediate.
As soon as the elephant had water, it cheered up immensely. One of the rangers was able to get close to the calf without scaring it, which was a sign that the animal was finally warming up to them. The more water it drank, the less stressed it became, and the tension between the rangers and the elephant started to fade. Now that the animal wasn’t tiring itself out with worry, the rangers could finally relax enough to think about what to do next.
A quick wash
While the humans thought about how to get the calf back to its pack, the elephant was entertaining itself with the water left in the bowl. It was making a mess and washing itself too, something that the animal had probably been wanting to do for hours. It was now acting entirely naturally around these strangers, but it couldn’t stop yearning for its family to return. Every time it heard a sound, it looked up in the hope it was its pack. Would they ever be reunited?
A familiar sound
Just when the calf and the rangers were starting to lose hope, they heard something distinctive. The elephant reacted instantly and tried again to get free of its confines, aware that what it had just heard was the call of its pack. They were somewhere nearby searching for the calf they’d had to abandon earlier. Although they’d been considering finding a shelter for the night to house the young animal, the rangers no longer needed to worry about keeping it safe. Its family was on the way.
Getting a tip-off
The rangers knew that the pack was near, now they just had to find them. Luckily, the tourists who had been watching the elephants earlier knew where to look. They alerted the men and told them that the pack was near the natural pools where they’d last seen the calf. With that knowledge in mind, the rangers were able to free the elephant once again and guide it back to where their paths had first crossed.
As they neared the location specified by the tourists, both the rangers and the calf were ecstatic to see that the pack was indeed there. The young elephant started calling out to its family and rushed towards them. The pack seemed equally pleased to be reunited with their missing child, glad that no harm had come to it after they’d been forced to abandon it in the mud. It was a happy ending for the elephant who’d had a seriously stressful day.