Construction workers and conservationists in Kenya worked together last month to rescue an elephant trapped in muck. It was a nice reminder that not every human-elephant interaction has to end in tragedy.
The young elephant was trapped in a mud pit near the town of Makindu on the border of Chyulu Hills National Park for about 12 hours, according to Caters News. When conservationists were alerted, they called on a construction company to dig out a path for the animal.
"Being able to stand so close to a wild animal is always exhilarating, but at the same time upsetting to be that close that I could almost sense that the animal had given up," Jeremy Goss, a conservation biologist and photographer who was there on the scene and captured the video and photos, told The Huffington Post.
It only took the digger about five minutes to open a side of the pit and coerce the elephant out, Goss explained. About 15 to 20 Kenya Wildlife Service rangers in two vehicles and a helicopter kept the elephant moving back toward Chyulu Hills National Park and away from human settlement areas.
"Who knows if he ever understood that he was being helped, but watching him discover that way out, and then climb up and walk, was special," Goss said.
Poaching has taken an immense toll on African elephants in recent decades, as demand for ivory products has soared in China. An estimated 35,000 elephants are killed in Africa every year and researchers have warned that they could go extinct within a few decades.
China recently announced it was banning the import of ivory carvings for one year. The majority of illegal ivory ends up in China, where a growing number of wealthy citizens see ivory objects as status symbols. On a recent visit to China, Britain's Prince William urged an end to the ivory trade and called on citizens around the world to help lower demand for ivory and curb trafficking.