Late one night last week, the Makame Rangers were alerted by a member of the local community about an elephant that was stuck deep in a waterhole. The rangers found a young bull elephant stuck knee-deep in a pit of mud soup that could not climb out because it was so slippery and the banks were so high. The rangers first started to try to break down the walls, to create some kind of ramp whilst also filling the muddy water with more sandy soil, hoping that the elephant could then get out.

After a back-breaking 6 hours, they felt this was not really working and saw that the elephant was giving up. They started to feed it leafy branches – hoping that this would bring its energy back, and at the same time change the texture of the muddy soup.

The rangers were exhausted, had made little headway and felt they needed some more ideas, so they drove 20 kilometers to the nearest cellular network connection to call Elizabeth Stegmaier, an experienced veterinary practitioner working at the Kilimanjaro Animal Center for Rescue, Education and wildlife (C.R.E.W).  She thought the elephant sounded very dehydrated and probably lacked the energy to get itself out, irrespective of food and making a ramp.. She nevertheless advised them to give it plenty of water.


The rangers returned enthusiastically, energy renewed and with this new idea. They put a 25 litre bucket of water on the bank in reach of the elephants trunk, and continued to dig way the walls! The rangers were determined to get this 4 tonne animal out, and the trust in them was clear from the elephant.

And finally, as described by Kiteto Kashe, the Honeyguide protection trainer “By digging away the steep banks of the pit and making the mud more dense giving it water and food, it must have finally got some energy because suddenly, it surprised all of us and it just climbed out! We did not even have the time to take a photo!”

So, if you find an elephant stuck in a muddy hole, like us, now you know how to get it out.