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Elephants Help Calf That Can’t Get Up the Ridge

Watch the special moment a herd of elephants stops what they were doing to help a little one that can’t get up past the river bank.

Timothy Van Vuuren, 28-Year-old content, media and production manager, loves wildlife and visits the bush as often as he can, he has a history of wildlife photography. He also used to be a game ranger, so he knows where to go to get the best footage of wildlife when he wants to.

This incredible sighting was captured in the MalaMala Game reserve, where Tim used to be a game ranger in 2016. Tim shared the excitement of the sighting with in his words:

“The scene was quite peaceful and there was a large herd of elephants coming down to the Sand River for a late afternoon drink and play before heading up in the direction of the bush over an embankment. I remember looking at that high step onto the embankment and saw how small the little calf in the herd was and knew that he would struggle to get up there. That’s when I decided to start filming.”

“I felt so sorry for the little one as it started to panic, but elephants being elephants, very family orientated, the calf was not left to struggle for too long before his family came to the rescue. My guests and I were all equally blown away by the amazing family dynamic portrayed by these elephants as they stepped-in to help the calf! Our emotions of remorse did not last long before it turned into absolute relief. We were ecstatic when they helped the little one up and over the embankment. “

“The sighting ended with the herd gathering and moving off back into the bush to continue feeding with the calf who was now staying very close to his mother after the ordeal. We always read and hear about how elephants family and social dynamics are something to behold but most people very rarely get to experience it on such a level where you actually see an elephant family actively help a member in distress, so this was quite a rare sighting for me.”


“When you’re at an elephant sighting in the wild, remember that distance is key. An elephant herd is highly protective of their young and in a situation like this one, where the animals are trying to help their young and are all probably stressed because of the situation your presence might be perceived as a threat and they might become aggressive of defensive. Other than being careful and staying alert of the unforeseen behaviors that can sometimes come from an animal, just enjoy the magic of elephant families as you can possibly learn something from them.”

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