Mother elephant and two calves rescued after falling into muddy pit during heavy rain storm in Laos
This is the heartwarming moment a mother elephant and her two calves were rescued after falling into a muddy pit during a storm.
The jumbo family became separated from their herd during thunder and lightning in Khammouane province, central Laos on December 2.
With heavy rain lashing the jungle and visibility reduced at night, they are believed to have walked straight into a drainage pit.
Locals heard the animals sloshing around in the mud the next morning.
In a herculean rescue, villagers spent several hours watching the elephants while local government wildlife officials arrived to check on the creatures.
With no way to help them up the steep sides of the manmade pool, they had to ask a local builder to borrow his backhoe excavator.
Footage shows how the machine smashed the muddy side of the pit to create a slope for the elephants to walk up and amble back into the forest unharmed.
Onlooker Somphor recorded video of the rescue in the Vang Nguek village in Bualapha district of the landlocked Southeast Asian Communist-ruled country.
He said: ‘We recruited help from the local government and a construction business. It took a long time to save the elephants but it was worth it. They are special animals.
‘I was worried they would charge at people when they came out of the water but they were so calm. They didn’t pay any attention to anybody and just walked away into the jungle.’
Laos – like neighbouring Thailand and Cambodia – is home to wild elephants. Conservationists believe there are between 780 to 1,200 elephants in the wild and 1,100 to 1,350 in captivity.
Environmentalists claim that Laos has total forest cover of up to 47 per cent of its land but ‘insufficient national funds, a lack of technical experts and the absence of the involvement of international NGO’s’ have lead to elephant conservation being a ‘pipedream’.
A report from EleAid, an Asian elephant campaign group, added: ‘The Laos government is committed to the principles of elephant conservation and recently, a number of international groups have started getting involved so things should start to improve – but there is a lot of ground to make up.
‘The main threat to Laos’ elephants is from hunting and the ever present problems of habitat loss. Hunting is particularly a problem in areas bordering with Thailand and Vietnam; perhaps because the culprits commit offences in Laos before disappearing over the border.
‘Significant funds for rangers to protect wildlife are simply not available domestically. Habitat loss is becoming a major problem as land is cleared for logging, agriculture, hydroelectric power projects and other infrastructure developments. There have been increasing reports of human deaths, probably mirrored by elephant losses.’