Two baby elephants are rescued after falling into a muddy waterhole


Two newborn elephants fell into a muddy watering hole during a severe drought in Zimbabwe, writes natureandwildlife

Last month, wildlife photographer Jens Cullmann discovered two baby elephants at Mana Pools National Park and reported them to the “Wild is life” animal reserve.

The charity’s team, locals, and a veterinarian spent around half a day freeing the two injured animals using ropes and shovels.

After being dug out of the ground, the elephants were given intravenous drips for their dehydration before being carried onboard a plane and flown to the Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery.

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Some rescuers attempted to remove them using a rope, while others pushed them away with poles. According to the rescue workers, both of them might be attacked by hyenas and needed treatment for their injuries before being flown on.

One of the baby elephants grips a rescuer’s leg with its trunk after it became stuck in the mud at the Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe, at the beginning of last month. It took rescuers around half a day to haul them out of the mud and they were treated before being loaded onto a plane

Members of the ‘Wild is life’ animal sanctuary and a veterinarian worked to haul the baby elephants out of the mud. A newborn elephant usually weighs around 20 stone, though it is not clear exactly how old the pair were

Rescuers use a branch with a rope tied to it as a lever to extract the elephant from the mud. Wild is life wrote on Instagram: ‘Thanks to all who helped on the ground with these rescues. Great to see caring Zimbabweans who are trying to make a difference to the souls with whom they live. Thank you, one and all!’

Men pull on a rope that was passed underneath the elephant and the mud. The animals had sustained some injuries which the rescuers believed were caused by hyenas

One of the rescue teams holds an intravenous drip for the elephant (left) and rescuers pull on a rope to free one of the elephants (right). The region has suffered a serious drought

The rescuers give water to one of the severely dehydrated elephants after it was saved from the mud. Jens Cullmann, 50, a wildlife photographer from Germany said: ‘It was quite emotional and devastating to see so many animals suffer – elephants especially since they are in a way very “human”‘
The two newborns are now recuperating and are having a wonderful time at the Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery.

“Ms. Pullmann added: ‘This year has been a very different stay in Mana Pools – I’ve been there every year for the past nine years and I’ve never seen anything like this drought.

It was distressing and heartbreaking to witness so many animals suffer – especially elephants, who are in a sense “very human.”

The baby elephants were given intravenous drips to help them re-hydrate and then flown to Wild is life’s Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery. The nursery was established in 2012 by Roxy Danckwerts. It is currently made up of two projects, the Nursery in Harare and the Re-wilding facility in Victoria Falls.

Rescue workers are covered in mud as they prepare an intravenous drip for one of the elephants which lies exhausted on the baked mud. The Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery is generously supported by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) who have partnered with ZEN to ensure the long term sustainability of the project

The elephants were loaded onto the back of a truck and transported to a waiting plane so they could be transferred to the elephant nursery. The photographer said: ‘It must have happened in the night before – I was at this time in this area every day and I would have noticed it. ‘When I found them, the elephants had already injuries, probably from hyenas.’

One of the baby elephants has a rag draped over its eyes to keep it calm while the rescue workers use shovels and ropes to extract it from the mud

Rescue workers pass a rope underneath the elephant’s belly as they prepare to haul it from the muddy patch in the dried out lake

It must have happened the night before because I was in this location every day at that time and would have noticed it.

‘When I found them, the elephants had already injuries, probably from hyenas.

After witnessing elephants d.i.e and lonely newborns wandering on their own, it was fantastic that we were able to do something to assist them; it made you feel less powerless.

The elephants were carted to a nearby runway so they could be shipped off for more recovery at the Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery

The baby elephants Tess and Mana (third and fourth from left) at the Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery after they were rescued last month