By: CARA BRAUND- Conservation Intern- 5th October 2011
Monday mornings aren’t always the most exciting in many offices, but this Monday at Wildlife Works proved to be a little different than usual! We received a phone call from one of our rangers saying that an elephant had become stuck in a muddy rock catchment on our neighbouring ranch. Apparently the creature was only around two years old, and had been stuck for over 24 hours.With none of her family members in sight, it was important we help her out of her predicament as soon as possible before she became too dehydrated.
The team raced to Kivuko rock and made their way up to the rock catchment, unsure of what to expect. Upon seeing the young elephant, some team members thought that she may have already died due to how far she had become stuck and her lack of movement. Thankfully she was still with us and so we set about setting her free!
The first stage was to free up around the elephant’s head and as many of her limbs as possible. This required most of the team to get stuck into the mixture of mud, poo and goodness-knows-what-else to dig with shovels and bare hands. Due to the elephant’s size and the relevant size of our team, there was no way manpower alone was going to be enough to get the poor creature out of her predicament.
As soon as we had the opportunity, we slipped a rope and strap underneath its chest and attached this to a car tow hitch. Having a large car on the side of a rock wasn’t an easy set-up, but with gentle teasing and pulling (thanks to our skilled operators!) in several different directions, the lucky elephant was gradually eased to the side of its muddy hole.
Understandably, the elephant was extremely exhausted and dehydrated but seemed to be fairly calm given the circumstances. The team gently washed the muddy mixture off her, especially from her mouth where it had accumulated over her time in the swamp.
She was then able to drink freely, and took her time to get as much water on board as she was still unable to get herself up. As we were unsure that the elephant would be okay by herself, we were glad when the team from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust arrived to lend their expertise to the situation. Both teams came together to coax the young elephant back to her feet, and although rather unsteady at first (not surprising given her ordeal during the previous 24 hours) she was back up and eating and drinking in no time at all!
The rangers in the area will be keeping an eye out on the animal in the hopes that her family will come back to her in the next few days. In the meantime, the team is making a plan to clean out the rock catchment to improve the quality of the rainwater and to stop any other unsuspecting elephants getting trapped!