Something Wasn’t Right
He had never seen an elephant act this way before. He was concerned because he could tell that something was wrong.
The elephant let out a warning call, and he could feel the loud sound vibrating through his chest. He knew how dangerous the situation was as he stepped closer. He couldn’t just turn back and pretend that nothing was happening, he had to commit to doing this. He had to know what was going on below the surface of the ground.
Jitendra Tiwari woke up with a kick in his step. He got dressed, grabbed a bite to eat, and headed out on his daily commute to work.
He was a park ranger at the nature reserve just next to his hometown. Tiwari was one of the more experienced employees at the reserve. When it came to nature and wildlife, he had seen it all – or so he thought!
Tiwari loved his job. He had a way with animals that few possessed. He seemed to understand them like no one else could, it’s what made him so respected among his peers.
Tiwari hopped on the train and departed when he reached the suburbs of the next town. From there, it was a 10-minute walk to his workplace. But halfway through, the course of his day would dramatically change.
The sun beamed high in the crystal blue sky as Tiwari walked. He closed his eyes and threw his head back, briefly taking in the warmth of the sun on his face and breathing in the cool morning air.
He listened to the birds around him, savouring their song. Suddenly, he was interrupted by a deafening loud noise.
The slight smile on Tiwari’s face immediately vanished. Alarmed, he looked around. He knew that sound. And by the pitch and tone, he knew this wasn’t going to be good.
Seeing nothing around him, he jogged forward. When the noise sounded again, he jogged faster in its direction. When he spotted the culprit, he stood in awe.
A huge elephant appeared from beyond the vegetation that lined the side of the road. But Tiwari’s shock was suddenly overtaken by fear. Something was wrong.
A crowd had formed around the animal. They kept their distance but Tiwari immediately noticed that their presence was making the elephant more agitated.
Tiwari continued to walk closer to the crowd as the beast was flapping its ears back and forth, an obvious sign of aggression.
Immediately, Tiwari tried to warn people to stay away but they didn’t listen. Everybody seemed to be fixated on one thing. When Tiwari followed their gaze, even he couldn’t look away.
Tiwari noticed that there was a large hole in front of the elephant. It looked like it was trying its best to dig but it couldn’t. With its rounded chubby feet, it wasn’t built to dig. Still, it tried.
Tiwari had never seen an elephant do this before. Elephants are intelligent creatures, so Tiwari knew that this elephant must have been digging for something. And it was. Something was down there.
Tiwari asked the guy next to him if he knew what was down there. The man replied that no one had gotten close enough to find out. But he told Tiwari that the elephant had been digging for around 11 hours.
Tiwari looked at the determined animal in a mixture of disbelief, pity, and caution. Now, he knew that for whatever reason, this animal was desperate. And a desperate animal is very, very dangerous.
Curious, Tiwari cautiously edged closer but he wasn’t the only one. The crowd was inching closer and closer to this massive animal. If the elephant decided to charge, it would be catastrophic.
Tiwari tried once more to tell people to stay back. But it was too late. Suddenly, the animal charged.
The elephant’s warning call vibrated through his chest. Dust had kicked high into the air. Everyone ran. Everyone but Tiwari. “Don’t run! Everyone stay still!”, he ordered.
Those that remained did as he directed. It was enough to discourage the animal, who quickly turned back and began digging again. Now, Tiwari could see what was happening.
Tiwari realized the elephant was a female, and not just a female but a female who was nursing a calf that must have been born not too long ago.
Tiwari inched forward and saw her baby. It was stuck in the bottom of the muddy hole. “She’s trying to rescue her baby!”, Tiwari shouted. “This makes her highly dangerous. Everyone please stay back!”.
Making Matters Worse
The mother elephant was visibly becoming more agitated as the crowd leaned in to try and spot the baby at the bottom of the ditch.
She began to dig faster with her trunk, but she was only making things worse. Every time she clumsily pulled at the soft dirt, she knocked more mud into the hole. They had to do something!
Running Out Of Time
The calf was growing weaker as it thrashed at the bottom of the hole, but the mother wouldn’t give up – even as she unwittingly piled more mud onto her baby. If he didn’t act now, Tiwari knew the tiny calf could suffocate.
The calf’s mournful, haunting cries only spurred its mother on as the villagers watched, helpless. Tiwari’s heart sank.
They Couldn’t Get Close
If they could only get close enough to the hole, they could pull the baby out… if only the mother elephant would realize that they were trying to help.
But she was angry and frightened – there was no way she was going to let Tiwari approach her baby. He just had to come up with another plan. He pulled out his phone.
Calling For Help
Tiwari grabbed his phone and called his colleagues who were only 5 minutes away. They weren’t aware of what was happening here.
The elephant was just at the edge of the nature reserve. They usually never travel so close to the road. Tiwari waited for help as his mind raced with solutions.
His team came fully prepared. With no time to lose, Tiwari quickly updated them on the situation. It wasn’t long before he had a plan in place.
Although elephants are huge, intelligent creatures, they can still fear humans, especially humans with guns. Tiwari directed his team to shoot blanks towards the sky to scare her off… which didn’t work. He’d have to come up with a plan B.
Although Tiwari and his colleagues were highly experienced in animal behavior, they had never seen anything like this before.
The elephant was so intent on saving her calf that she wouldn’t let the deafening gunshots distract her from her task. Tiwari suddenly had an idea. The solution to the problem ultimately lay with the villagers.
Help From The Villagers
Tiwari instructed the villagers to gather all their fruit stores and pile them onto their trucks. Although it meant they wouldn’t have a harvest to sell at the market, they were happy to sacrifice it all if it meant they could save the calf.
The heartbreaking cries from the calf were becoming fainter as it clung to life, and the mother’s desperate bellowing intensified. They had to act now.
Trucks Of Bananas
Tiwari instructed the villagers to drive their two banana-laden trucks up to the hole in an attempt to drive the mother elephant away – a very risky move. They maneuvered the heavy vehicles inch by inch until they were between the mother and her calf.
Surely the mother must be starving by now – they could try lure her away. But would it work?
The smell of the fresh bananas was too much for the starving elephant – her instincts to survive ultimately overrode her efforts to save calf, even if it was just for a few minutes while she stopped and ate.
Tiwari, his team, and the villagers sprung into action. They knew they didn’t have much time.
Quickly, they grabbed shovels and removed the ton of loose mud that had fallen into the hole, creating a slope down to the calf. With his mother waiting anxiously and aggressively in the wings, they had to act fast.
When they were happy, they stepped away from the hole and moved the banana truck that stood between them and the furious elephant.
Returning To Her Calf
The mother elephant raced to the hole once more. Now that she was working at ground-level, she wasn’t knocking more mud back into the hole.
Once she realized that something about the hole had changed, she stepped down into the pit by using the man-made slope. Finally, she managed to reach down and wrap her trunk around her baby.
The mother elephant was visibly exhausted after digging for more than 11 hours, but she pushed on for one final pull.
With her last effort, she finally dragged her calf out the hole and to safety. With a gasp, Tiwari, his team, and the villagers burst into a round of applause. They had done it!
Back To The Herd
The mother elephant visibly relaxed as soon as her calf was back on solid ground. Her aggression toward Tiwari and the villagers had vanished – as if she now understood that they had been trying to help.
She walked into the trees with her calf – her trunk intwined with her baby’s – as they went off to look rejoin their herd.