An abandoned baby elephant that was found drowning in a muddy well in Kenya has been rescued.
On May 18, villagers in Raku Bula, Merti, in the Cherab Community Conservancy, came across the trapped elephant calf.
The calf was found lying in the muddy, shallow well with no family around, nonprofit organization the Northern Rangelands Trust said in a statement.
Pictures of the calf before its rescue show it lying down in the mud, appearing unable to move. It is estimated the calf was only 2 months old.
After alerting the Northern Rangelands Trust and other local authorities, villagers worked together to save the calf, heaving him out of the well. The Northern Rangelands Trust said in a statement that the elephant was in a “serious condition.”
There were still no sightings of the calf’s family nearby, so community members kept a “watch over him.”
An air helicopter from the Kenya Wildlife Service was called to the scene, which took the abandoned calf to the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi.
Elephants are highly social animals, and emotionally complex. Young elephants will usually stay with their families until they are at least 16 years old. It is not often that mothers will abandon their calf, however if the mother is unable to rescue them from such incidents, they are often forced to move on, leaving the calf behind.
A spokesperson for the Northern Rangelands Trust told Newsweek that incidents like this are not uncommon.
“Communities dig shallow wells along temporary water streams and rivers in Northern Kenya, where pastoralism is the main source of income during dry seasons for their livestock and household use. When elephants pass by in search of water, the calves fall into the wells,” the spokesperson said. “Even though their herds assist in rescuing the calves, it is not always possible and they are left behind. Fortunately, we have communities that live near the sources and notice and report on such incidents.”
The spokesperson said it is also particularly common during times of drought.
“Typically, all cases are reported by community members, who assist in rescuing together with community conservancy rangers, and if the situation is complex, other partners chip in to help,” the spokesperson said.
It is possible that the calf became stuck after taking a mud bath, not realizing the struggle it would be to lift himself out the well.
The calf will now be looked after by the Sheldrick Trust, which according to the Northern Rangelands Trust, will provide a “comfortable home and family to make him forget the terrible ordeal he has just been through.”
In a statement, the Northern Rangelands Trust said it “couldn’t be more proud” of the community members who carried out the rescue