When a baby elephant got trapped in Addo’s Gwarrie Pan, SANParks rangers intervened to help the tiny calf. One Wild Card member captured it all on camera – and we’ve shared his dramatic sequence. Pictures and texts by Corney Coetzee

“While visiting the Gwarrie Pan drinking hole in Addo Elephant National Park, a baby ellie fell into the water and was unable to climb back out. The herd attempted to get the baby out by wetting the side of the dam and trying to crumble the edge of the rock-hard mud embankment.


“Park rangers came to help, initially planning to bring in a back hoe to break down the mud wall so the baby could climb out of the water. The adult elephants, however, became agitated at the sight of the large equipment. They pushed the baby further away and guarded it from the banks of the dam.




“It was time for Plan B: a group of rangers hopped into their bakkie and began to clear the area of the adult elephants, making loud sounds to get the animals moving. When the elephants were finally far enough away for the rangers to commence their rescue mission safely, two jumped from the back of the vehicle and raced towards the struggling baby.


“Haste was crucial. Jumping in the water, the rangers used their strength to cradle the baby and push it up towards dry land. More SANParks staff joined to assist from the sides and help the small (but nevertheless heavy) elephant.



“Since mother and child could no longer see each other amidst the bushes on the banks of the dam, rangers began devising a plan to reunite the family. They loaded the baby onto the bakkie and drove it closer to its protective and worried mother.



“After a three-hour ordeal, the family had been safely reunited, thanks to the bravery and dedication of SANParks rangers in Addo – and so, they set off to rejoin their herd.”


Please note: visitors are cautioned not to approach elephants or make loud noises. If you see an animal in distress, notify park management.