A series of amazing pictures and a video has captured a heartwarming moment when a herd of elephants worked together to rescue a poor calf that tumbled into a watering hole at Nxai Pan Park in Botswana, South Africa.
Richard Tustin and his wife, Vanessa, from Australia, are both keen wildlife photographers who have visited South Africa and neighboring countries in the last several years on numerous occasions, according to their website Tustinz Wildlife Photography.
On one of their visits to Nxai Pan Park in 2018, the couple witnessed an incredible moment. According to Caters News, Richard and his wife spent hours at a particular waterhole in the park waiting for a notable moment to unfold. Just then, they came across a scared baby elephant that had slipped into the watering hole and was struggling to make its way out.
Richard, who had his camera ready with a fast shutter speed managed to get a series of pictures of the scene before them. Meanwhile, Vanessa filmed the last few moments of the incredible rescue.
The desperate calf that found itself surrounded in knee-deep water with mud and sludge was frantically trying its best to climb back up, but without success.
The mama elephant then made numerous attempts to pull the calf out of the water hole, but all her efforts seemed in vain. Alluding to the mama elephant, Richard said: “She was screaming in despair and just look at those eyes—pure terror.”
Richard believes that the elephant “was pretty small and most likely it was her first baby.”
After the mother elephant made several futile efforts to get her baby back to safety, a larger elephant stepped in to aid. According to Richard, this elephant pushed the mama out of her way and in one fell swoop went down on her knees and miraculously pushed the terrified calf out of the water hole with her trunk.
Once the baby was brought to safety and on the land, a loud “triumphant trumpeting” sound was heard.
“The triumphant trumpeting at the end was just awesome. It probably is fairly common however rarely viewed,” Richard said. As the elephants settled down and walked off, the Australian native commented that the moment was so “human-like and touching.”
As Richard captured this once-in-a-lifetime moment on camera, he shared: “It was a truly memorable sighting and really just highlights how intelligent these animals are and how their social structure operates.”
The heartwarming rescue took only over a minute, but Richard was amazed to be “rewarded with some outstanding footage of animal behavior.”
The couple admitted that they prefer observing animals’ behavior when they visit parks. “It’s like watching a live movie—seeing their interaction with each other, the hierarchy amongst lone bulls, babies interacting with other youngsters,” Richard shared.
However, Richard does believe that elephants have a strong social structure. According to ElephantVoices, a nonprofit that is actively promoting the scientifically sound and ethical management and care of elephants, these mammals are known for their intelligence and close family ties.
“They live in a fluid fission-fusion society with relationships radiating out from the mother-offspring bond through families, bond groups, clans, independent males and beyond to strangers,” ElephantVoices states on their website.
According to Richard, humans do not give them enough credit for their intelligence and “could learn from them.”
“We should observe nature more and learn from the experience,” Richard added.