A herd of eleven elephants, consisting of three mature females and eight juveniles, was discovered within a large muddy bomb crater near the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary. According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, the elephants were slathered in mud and stuck within the crater. Farmers near the site immediately contacted the Department of Environment, which in turn communicated with the WCS in order to work out an elephant rescue solution.
Unsurprisingly, the elephants originated from the sanctuary, which is a forest near the Annamite Mountains in the east of the country. The sanctuary remarked that it looks over an excess of 60 different species that range from threatened, near-threatened status or even some whose scarcity is unknown. These particular elephants, Asian elephants, are classified as endanger due to a combination of shrinking habitats, ivory poachers and issues with farmers and farmland.
A report addressing just how the animals came into peril indicates that they had traveled into the bomb crater, hailing back to the Vietnam War, in order to reach water that had been pooling in order to bathe and hydrate. The local villagers assisted the rescue effort by feeding and watering the elephants to keep them calm as other dug out a ramp against the crater’s side to guide the elephants out. Video evidence of the incident showed the elephants cooperatively pushing each other along the ramp with their skulls and trunks.
When only the eleventh elephant remained, without any other member of the herd to push it, the villagers grabbed some sturdy ropes and helped pull the animal free. After several hours of toil and tugging, the last elephant was freed from the crater after being trapped for days.
Asian elephants can be found across India and the southeastern portion of Asia. Unfortunately, the closest estimate on their population is around 40,000 to 50,000 and is a hazy figure because these creatures’ native habitats are distant and highly saturated with vegetation from trees, overgrowth and underbrush. Despite the difficulty in gauging the population of Asian elephants, the general consensus among naturalists and biologists is that numbers are shrinking.