Saving Three Elephants Stuck in a Dam

Published on the 19th of November, 2023

For three bulls in Laikipia, a nighttime jaunt in a dam turned into a life-or-death situation. After nearly 24 hours of watery incarceration, a collaborative rescue effort gave them the emergency exit they needed.

On the night of 15th November, three bulls left the safety of Lariak Forest and ventured onto adjacent community land. There, a small dam filled with water caught their attention. The trio got more than they bargained for when they found themselves unable to climb out of the steep-sided space.

The following morning, community members heard splashing within the dam. It wasn’t immediately apparent what was inside — the dam was so full that all three elephants were almost completely submerged. Upon closer investigation, they saw a trio of trunks poking above the water’s surface. Generators were organised to pump out water, with fuel paid for by Laikipia Nature Conservancy -Mukutan, in the hope that the elephants would be able to find their way out of the dam on their own.

Unfortunately, that was not to be. Several hours later, the elephants were still hopelessly stuck. We received a report about their situation that afternoon and immediately mobilised our SWT/KWS Mount Kenya Mobile Veterinary Unit to the scene.

Working with the Laikipia county government, the team formulated a plan. First, they tried using ropes to haul out the elephants, but gravity wasn’t on our side. It was time to bring in bigger measures.

The county government efficiently organised for an excavator to be brought to the scene, which was paid for by Laikipia Nature Conservancy -Mukutan. From there, they made quick work of things, digging out one side of the dam to create an exit ramp. Despite the stressful situation, the elephants clearly realised they were being helped and remained calm throughout the operation. As soon as the excavator’s work was done, they walked out of the dam and returned to the forest.

This operation demonstrates how collaboration saves lives. It was a true team effort between ourselves, the Kenya Wildlife Service, county government, Laikipia Nature Conservancy -Mukutan, and the local community. A good samaritan raised the alarm, alerting us that the three elephants were stuck. As the day progressed, a large crowd had gathered, but everyone was cooperative and respectful. By pooling our expertise and resources, we were able to avert potential disaster and give these elephants the lifeline they needed.

Your donations make these life-saving missions possible. Be it rescuing a tiny orphaned elephant or three adult bulls, you enable us to respond to all manner of wildlife emergencies across Kenya. Thank you for helping us answer the call!

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