Two Baby Elephants Are Rescued After Falling Into A Muddy Waterhole In Zimbabwe

During a severe drought in Zimbabwe, two juvenile elephants were ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇd after stumbling into a muddy waterhole. Last month, wildlife photographer Jens Cullmann found the elephants, Tess and Mana, at Mana Pools National Park, and informed the ‘Wild is Life’ animal refuge.

Members of the organization, neighbors, and a veterinarian used ropes and shovels to liberate the two stranded animals, which took around half a day. After being dragged out of the earth and placed into an aircraft to be airlifted to the Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery, the elephants were given intravenous drips for dehydration.

Ms Cullmann, 50, believes the two were caught after attempting to fetch water and were unable to free themselves from the muck. After being trapped in the mud at the Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe at the beginning of last month, one of the newborn elephants holds a ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇr’s leg with its trunk.

They were hauled out of the muck and disɪɴfᴇᴄᴛᴇᴅ before being placed aboard a plane, which took about half a day. The newborn elephants were ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇd from the muck by members of the ‘Wild is Life’ wildlife sanctuary and a veterinarian. A baby elephant typically weighs approximately 20 stone, but it’s unclear how old the two were.

To pull the elephant out of the muck, ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇrs use a branch with a rope tied to it as a lever. ‘Thanks to everybody who aided on the ground with these ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇs,’ posted Wild is Life on Instagram. It’s inspiring to witness compassionate Zimbabweans working to improve the lives of those with whom they share their lives.

Thank you, everyone!’ Men tug on a rope that runs beneath the elephant and through the mud. The hyenas had inflicted injuries on the animals, which the ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇrs assumed were caused by them. One of the ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇ team members administers an intravenous drip to the elephant (left), as others tug on a rope to liberate one of the elephants (right).

A severe drought has hit the region. After ʀᴇsᴄᴜɪɴɢ one of the extremely dehydrated elephants from the muck, the ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇrs offer it water. ‘It was pretty sad and terrible to witness so many creatures suffer, especially elephants, because they are in some ways quite “human,”‘ said Jens Cullmann, 50, a wildlife photographer from Germany.

While some of the ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇrs dragged the elephants, others pushed them. Both had been ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋed by hyenas, according to the ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇrs, and had to be treated for their ᴡᴏᴜɴᴅs before being flown ahead. The two infants are presently doing well at the Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery and are stated to be having a good time.



‘It’s been a very different stay in Mana Pools this year than it has been in previous years – I’ve been there every year for the past nine years and I’ve never experienced a drought like this one,’ Ms Pullmann said. It was ʜᴇᴀʀᴛʙʀᴇᴀᴋɪɴɢ to witness so many creatures suffer, particularly elephants, which are in some ways quite “human.”


The newborn elephants were given intravenous infusions to help them rehydrate before being transferred to the Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery run by Wild is Life. Roxy Danckwerts created the nursery in 2012. It now consists of two projects: the Harare Nursery and the Victoria Falls Re-wilding Facility.

As they prepare an intravenous drip for one of the elephants who sits tired on the baked dirt, ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇ personnel are smeared in muck. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has generously financed the Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery and has worked with ZEN to assure the project’s long-term viability.

The elephants were put onto the back of a vehicle and driven to the elephant nursery on a waiting aircraft. ‘It must have happened the night before – I was in this location at this time every day and would have spotted it,’ the photographer claimed. The elephants were already ɪɴjᴜʀᴇᴅ when I found them, most likely by hyenas.’

One of the newborn elephants has a cloth over its eyes to keep it quiet while the ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇ team dig it out of the muck using shovels and ropes. As they prepare to lift the elephant from the muddy section in the dried-up lake, ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇ personnel pass a rope beneath its belly.

The elephants are being loaded into an aircraft to be transferred to the Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery by ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇ personnel. ‘It had to have happened the night before since I was in this location every day at this time and would have observed it.’ The elephants were already ɪɴjᴜʀᴇᴅ when I found them, most likely from hyenas.

‘After watching elephants d.i.e and lonely kids walking about by themselves, it was extremely fantastic that we were able to help save them. It makes you feel a bit less powerless,’ says the author. The elephants were transported to a nearby runway where they will be transferred to the Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery for further rehabilitation. Tess and Mana, two juvenile elephants rescued last month at the Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery (third and fourth from left).


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