A baby stuck in a well. A frantic mother crazed with worry for her offspring. Anyone could relate, but these very human emotions came from the bond of an elephant baby and her mother. And a video capturing the rescued calf has captivated the Web.
Just your typical day in Amboseli National Park in Kenya, where a team of elephant conservationists from the Amboseli Trust for Elephants received a call about a baby stuck in a five-foot hole dug by Masai tribesmen. They raced to the site of the accident.
The baby was fine, but the hole was too deep for the eight-month-old calf to climb out. And the mother was unable to help.
To complicate matters, the mother thought the rescuers were a threat, and almost sat on the Land Rover. The driver, Dr. Vicki Fishlock, resident scientist of the elephant trust, recognized the mother, Zombe, from a mark on her ear.
The scientist scared her away with a high-pitched yell and maneuvered around her, as two men managed to get rope around the baby. By attaching the line to an SUV and putting the vehicle into reverse, they were able to pull the elephant calf out.
A happy ending, but especially rewarding because the video captures the baby's sprint to its mother's side.
The rescue is a reminder of the challenges faced by humans and elephants that share the land. Without the rescue, the elephant would have died in the well, causing conflict with the Masai.
The Amboseli Trust for Elephants website noted, "Luckily the report came in early in the morning and we were able to get there quick before the mother was forced to leave by herders arriving to water their cattle. It was a happy ending as we were able to reunite the calf with her mother, Zombe."
The organization has a longtime relationship with the elephants, which it has been studying since 1972, as well as the Masai. Fishlock noted to Yahoo News in an email, "Our biggest fears for the elephants of Amboseli and elsewhere lie not with their sharing land with the Maasai, who we work with and who report elephant emergencies to us, but from the burgeoning ivory trade."
Indeed, thousands of elephants are slaughtered across Africa for their ivory tusks, used to make trinkets that are in high demand in Asia.
Fishlock added, " We are delighted by the web response to our video, and we hope it persuades people that elephants are special and deserve to be protected and cherished."