safari experts, since 1991
See how we earn 5 starsTrustpilot - 5 stars
Africa Geographic Travel

In November 2015, a valiant attempt was made to rescue and resuscitate two elephants stuck in the mud at the Gubu mouth of the Ume River in Zimbabwe. Sadly, due to the intense heat, the elephants were too far gone to carry on, but this wasn’t for lack of everyone trying. Written by Nick Milne

What is incredibly humbling is how our little community just pulls out all the stops and bands together when we need to. Rae from the African Lion & Environmental Research Trust, Levi from Rhino Safari Camp, all staff from Bumi Hills Safari Lodge and Spa and Bumi Hills Anti Poaching Unit (BHAPU), Matusadona National Parks rangers, Pierre and Ian from the Ume Croc Farm, various houseboat guests including Lauren Luitingh and Taryn Luitingh, and all the local subsistence fishermen literally risked life and limb tying ropes onto the flailing legs and trunks of the two elephants. They pulled and pushed and dug through the mud for hours on what would have probably been the hottest two days of the year so far in Zimbabwe.

elephants people-pull-elephant-from-mud team-pulling-elephant-from-mud


You win some, you lose some, and it is with a very heavy heart that I have to say that we lost this battle. There comes a point in every rescue operation where all you do is delay the inevitable and prolong the suffering. These two elephants were sadly too far gone, so the decision was made to put them down.


We tried everything we could, from feeding them oranges to giving them enemas to try to give them enough energy to get back up on their feet. We were so close so many times, but they were just too dehydrated and exhausted to continue their fight for survival.


Nevertheless, on behalf of everyone who pulled out all the stops to try to save these two elephants, we wish to thank Lisa from the Aware Trust Zimbabwe, Debbie and Andries from KAWFT for their advice and support, and everyone else involved for doing everything they could to help.

To comment on this story: Login (or sign up) to our app here - it's a troll-free safe place 🙂.


  • Travel with us. Travel in Africa is about knowing when and where to go, and with whom. A few weeks too early / late and a few kilometres off course and you could miss the greatest show on Earth. And wouldn’t that be a pity? Browse our ready-made packages or answer a few questions to start planning your dream safari.
  • Subscribe to our FREE newsletter / download our FREE app to enjoy the following benefits.
  • Plan your safaris in remote parks protected by African Parks via our sister company - safari camps for responsible travellers

AG Logo

In the Guest Blogger profile, you'll see fresh and exciting content from a range of contributors who have submitted their content to us on a once-off or temporary basis, including press releases, campaigns and exciting adventure and travel tales!

Africa Geographic Travel
[wpforms id="152903"]
<div class="wpforms-container wpforms-container-full" id="wpforms-152903"><form id="wpforms-form-152903" class="wpforms-validate wpforms-form wpforms-ajax-form" data-formid="152903" method="post" enctype="multipart/form-data" action="/stories/local-community-rallies-together-try-save-elephants-stuck-mud/" data-token="9aeae033bb2dd11b37d8b218f50cc427"><noscript class="wpforms-error-noscript">Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.</noscript><div class="wpforms-field-container"><div id="wpforms-152903-field_1-container" class="wpforms-field wpforms-field-email" data-field-id="1"><label class="wpforms-field-label wpforms-label-hide" for="wpforms-152903-field_1">Email Address <span class="wpforms-required-label">*</span></label><input type="email" id="wpforms-152903-field_1" class="wpforms-field-medium wpforms-field-required" name="wpforms[fields][1]" placeholder="Email " required></div></div><div class="wpforms-submit-container"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[id]" value="152903"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[author]" value="3"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[post_id]" value="61089"><button type="submit" name="wpforms[submit]" id="wpforms-submit-152903" class="wpforms-submit" data-alt-text="Sending..." data-submit-text="Subscribe" aria-live="assertive" value="wpforms-submit">Subscribe</button><img src="" class="wpforms-submit-spinner" style="display: none;" width="26" height="26" alt="Loading"></div></form></div> <!-- .wpforms-container -->