December 14, 2018

11:47 am

Tim the Tusker Rescued!

When a six-ton elephant gets stuck in the mud, there isn’t a lot one can do. When that six-ton elephant is a famous icon — one of Africa’s largest and best-known tuskers — it only makes the story more compelling.

But Tim the elephant’s predicament also galvanized people across the elephant-conservation spectrum, bringing together a number of organizations to help rescue him.

That rescue effort involved Big Life Foundation, Kenya Wildlife Service, and the David Sheldrick Wildlife trust — ALL of which happen to be Moving Giants “Elephant Champions.”

As reported by the Big Life Foundation Facebook page, Tim — one of the biggest bull elephants in Africa — was reported on Monday this week to have been stuck in the mud “deep in the Kimana swamp” in Kenya's Amboselli National Park.

“Our hearts sank,” reported the Big Life team. “Given the size, there was a small number of elephants it could be, and a small chance of a successful rescue. An aerial view confirmed the worst: it was Tim, an icon of Amboseli.… He was stuck in a section of deep mud, surrounded by farms and a growing crowd, and clearly in serious trouble.”

The Big Life team responded immediately, “but the outlook wasn’t good. Tim was up to his neck in mud and fully immobilized, with zero chance of escaping on his own. Nor was there a way for any kind of vehicle to get close enough in the swamp, either to pull him out or to dig around him. Failure—Tim’s death—was suddenly an even more real possibility.”

The team of concerned rangers and experts was faced with a number of challenges, including physics (pulling a massive beast out of a suction pit) and the animal’s state of mind (“Exhaustion alone can kill an animal, and it became a race against the clock to try something, anything, to save him.”)

The only spoiler we’ll give is that Tim made it, but the details are fascinating, and it took more than 11 hours in the baking sun, and a specially-made strap that was assembled in Nairobi and flown in by private-chartered jet for the rescue. And that strap broke at least five times.

Read the whole account on Big Life Foundation’s Facebook page, and rest assured this holiday season that there are amazing organizations around the world, doing their very best to protect elephants.