A Giant Rescue Operation in Amboseli

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In January at Amboseli Game Reserve, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and Save the Elephants, a London-based charity, staged a four-hour dramatic operation to rescue a stranded elephant. For four days, she had been stuck in a mudhole deeply embedded in thick, sticky mud. Save for its head and back, the huge animal was wholly submerged.

Laura, as the matriarch is fondly called by the Amboseli Elephant Rescue team, was spotted by a KWS pilot, Mr. Kayser el Haji, while on routine patrol flight over Amboseli.

Accompanied by Dr. Ian Douglas-Hamilton of Save the Elephants, Dr. Jacob Mwanzio, a KWS veterinarian, led the operation that involved about 100 people from Oltokai Village within the park, in what has been seen as a unique example of cooperation between KWS and local communities.

The rescuers used strong ropes and thick wood planks normally used by KWS’s wildlife capture unit.

With the planks of wood in place, and the ropes secured around the elephant, the people pulled and levered .

With Laura herself helping in the efforts by struggling to get out, the heaving and pulling gradually loosened the suction of the bog and she begun to break free. When she succeeded in securing a grip on some of the planks as she rolled and kicked, victory chants rent the air as the people sang and ululated.

Eventually she broke free and stood up trembling all over.

At that moment one of the rescuers panicked and fell right under her trunk. But in what looked like a show of gratitude, she left him alone and walked off into the gathering dusk.

A CORRESPONDENT
reports for Safarimate

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