While most veterinary professionals are more than capable of helping all sorts of animals, they typically have one area of expertise wherein they can focus their skills on a particular species or area of study. The workers at Kenya’s David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, for instance, are dedicated specifically to the rescue and care of African elephants.
When it came to pachyderms, you could say these rangers were experts! But their devotion was put to the test recently when they spotted a creature that spooked their elephants—and was struggling to survive. Even though the animal was completely out of their purview, the team knew they just couldn’t ignore her… but could they even help her in time?
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which focuses on rescuing orphaned elephants and protecting them from poachers, was founded in 1977 by Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick (right). The organization was named after her late husband (left), who served as the first warden of Tsavo East National Park in Kenya. It’s still going strong today!
During his tenure, David established a team that was committed to fighting poachers while protecting and studying the elephants. This work continues today thanks to supporters like Bill Teasdale, a pilot and videographer who visited the Trust in 2015 to see its reintroduction center in Ithumba, Kenya.
billteasdale / Instagram
Bill arrived at the Campi ya Kanzi ecolodge, where he documented his trip for his YouTube channel. Shortly after his arrival, he watched as several elephants socialized and bathed by a watering hole. He couldn’t have predicted what would happen next, however…
Seemingly out of nowhere, the herd became startled and quickly began moving away from the refreshing water. Apparently, some sort of mysterious noise disturbed them and caused them to flee—but what?
As the herd of elephants scattered away from the watering hole, the people who had been watching over them became curious. What had caused the elephants to flee so suddenly? Were they in danger?
More curious than frightened, the local rangers decide to take a closer look, even if that meant struggling to walk through the mud. Once they realized what caused the commotion, however, they stopped right in their tracks…
One of the guides, a local named Parashi, nimbly walked ahead to get a better view. There in the mud was a struggling creature. With the help of other rangers and a waiter named Nkilisho, they carefully grabbed ahold of her and tried to pull her out of the mud—but to no avail.
Apparently, the distressed creature was none other than a buffalo calf! She couldn’t have been more than a couple of days old. She was in over her head—in more ways than one—and she definitely wasn’t budging. In fact, it looked like she’d been stuck for several hours.
The poor thing simply wandered too close to the water and became stuck in the mud. It was now up to the park rangers to help her. There was only one problem: they were more experienced in dealing with elephants than a baby buffalo!
Parashi and Nkilisho couldn’t pull the struggling buffalo calf out of the mud, so the other rangers stepped in to help. Finally, with the full team’s effort, they were able to hoist the young animal onto steadier ground…
The baby buffalo was so exhausted from her ordeal that all she could do was lie on the dry ground. Luckily, that gave the rescuers a good opportunity to clean off some of the dirt and mud that was caked onto her fur…
One of the rangers carried a large bucket of water toward the group to help wash the baby buffalo. Finally, it seemed that she was able to stand up on her own, but after everything she’d been through, that was easier said than done…
It took awhile, but the small buffalo calf managed to collect her bearings. She carefully took a few steps with the help of her rescuers; it was almost as if she understood that she owed them her life!
Though the calf was walking again, the rangers were still concerned about her condition. She was just a baby, after all, and they suspected she might’ve been an orphan. There was no sign of her herd anywhere, and there was no way she could survive on her own.
While the calf followed her rescuers around like a little puppy, they pondered about her predicament—and what to do about her. Where was her mother? Would they have to leave her to fend for herself?
The rangers then had an idea: they could let her stay in the same stockade as the orphaned elephants. The elephants already seemed curious about her, and the calf playfully chased them around. While they wondered what to do next, they spotted something moving in the distance—and it seemed to excite the buffalo calf.
It was none other than the little buffalo’s concerned mother, watching warily from the top of the nearby hill! Fortunately, this baby buffalo wasn’t an orphan at all. But would her mother accept her back? Or would her exposure to humans be too much?
Luckily, the baby buffalo didn’t seem to care. She was so excited to see her mother that she ran out of the rescuers’ arms—once again scaring the herd of elephants as she charged right past them! Absolutely nothing could stop her from being reunited with her mama.
Obviously, after such a terrifying ordeal, being at her mother’s side was the number one priority for the baby buffalo. She was so excited, though, that she ran in the wrong direction! Thankfully, one of the rangers carried her and brought her closer to her mother.
It was really a beautiful moment, but nothing could compare to watching it all unfold in the footage of the rescue and eventual reunion. Even though the rangers were used to dealing with elephants, they were able to help this wayward buffalo calf find her mom!
Hopefully, this little calf will be more careful about wandering too far away from her mother—and getting herself stuck where she doesn’t belong. At least the mother and calf are reunited now!
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