Pete Muller@petekmuller

National Geographic Photography Fellow. Visual case studies on human ecology, masculinity and conflict. Nairobi, Kenya.

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2017/09/elephant-rescue-pete-muller/

463 posts 151,599 followers 409 following

After nearly an hour of commotion and excitement, rescue team members situate the elephant calf inside the plane that will carry him to the @dswt elephant orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya. Over the coming years, he’ll be cared for by the wonderful people at the Trust until he’s ready to re-enter the wild. I’m already in touch with the staff in Nairobi and will be checking in periodically until this young fellow is released back onto the savanna. Stay tuned for updates. #Conservation #elephantrescue #kenya #masaimara #wildlife #Africa

Masai Mara National Park KENYA
17

The rescue team struggles to load the elephant calf into the aircraft. #Kenya #masaimara #conservation #Africa #elephants #wildlife

Masai Mara National Reserve
9

The plane is tiny, a 12-seat Cessna. The door through which the team intends to load the elephant calf looks impossibly small. They make one unsuccessful attempt. Then another. The elephant is awkward, mildly awake and weighs about 1,000 pounds. The team repositions it’s massive body before making another attempt to lift it in. Lots of grunting, shouting and coordination. “Move left!” “Turn!” It’s a Herculean task. #Kenya #Africa #conservation #wildlife #masaimara #elephant #elephantrescue

Masai Mara National Park KENYA
14

The rains clear as the team arrives at the airstrip in Masai Mara. As time elapsed, the young elephant calf began to calm down. Each phase of the rescue was carefully coordinate in order to minimize stress to the calf. The initial sedation dart was not fired until it was confirmed that the transport plane was enroute. The process is inherently jarring for the animal but the team goes to great lengths to minimize the trauma. #Kenya #Masaimara #conservation #africa #wildlife #elephant #elephantrescue

Masai Mara National Park KENYA
5

After some time, the team succeeded in calming the elephant and loading it into the bed of a pickup truck. The elephant stirred and kicked as the truck careened along the gravel road towards the airstrip. Like people playing Twister, we found uncomfortable perches around the groggy but active animal. “Can he really wake up?” I asked the lead veterinarian. “Just keep your legs clear,” he said elusively with a smile. He shared a story of a colleague whose leg was badly broken in a similar situation.

Masai Mara National Park KENYA
6

Part 6: I was somewhat incredulous when the team said that they would simply “lift” the elephant calf into the bed of a truck in order to transport it to an airstrip. I often feel that such animals are deceivingly heavy. But, alas, with great determination this group of men successfully hoisted the young calf into the truck. It was incredible. #kenya #elephant #masaimara #rescue #conservation #wildlife #animals

Masai Mara National Park KENYA
7

Part 5: After a lengthy struggle, the team of rangers and veterinarians succeeds in bringing the calf under control. Covering his eyes encourages him to relax as they prepare to transport him to an airstrip. #Kenya #wildlife #masaimara #conservation #elephant #Africa #animals

Masai Mara National Park KENYA
4

Part 4: The nervous elephant calf, unaware of the team’s helpful intent, charged and trumpeted as men grasped at its tail and hind legs. It took several minutes—and a few close calls—for the team of rangers and veterinarians to bring the animal under control. #Kenya #masaimara #conservation #wildlife #elephant #animals

Masai Mara National Reserve
2

First, the veterinary team used a dart gun to administer a small dose of sedative, careful not to use too much. Once the sedative took effect, a team of rangers and vets set about safely taking down the calf. The process resembled calf-roping at a rodeo, but less graceful. The elephant, unaware of the team’s helpful intent, charged and trumpeted as men grasped at its tail and hind legs. The scene played out like a Marx brothers sketch on the open savannah. As a photographer, I wanted to capture the contorted faces of the vets and rangers as they struggled to—quite literally—catch an elephant by the tail. This forced me in front of the melee, standing before the struggling elephant like some kind of witless, accidental matador. The elephant seemed to surge new anger and energy each time it spotted me in its line of vision. I was in a precarious position. #Kenya #Africa #wildlife #conservation #elephant #orphan #rescue

Masai Mara National Park KENYA
24

Park rangers and vets rush toward an elephant calf during the initial stages of its rescue. This male calf, weighing somewhere in the range of 1,000 pounds, was spotted alone in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Park, in the country's southwest. It's not clear what happened to his mother, but a lone calf is vulnerable to predators. Given that African elephants are internationally listed as vulnerable to extinction, park officials are loathe to lose any, especially to avoidable circumstances. #kenya #masaimara #mara #elephant #wildlife #conservation #nature #africa

Masai Mara National Park KENYA
10

While on assignment for @natgeo in Kenya’s Masai Mara, I witnessed the rescue of a young, male elephant calf. He’d been separated from his herd and was therefore vulnerable to predators. Park officials launched a rescue operation that was inspiring, chaotic and comedic at once. Check out my dispatch on @natgeo. Link in bio. #Kenya #Masaimara #elephant #rescue #wildlife #conservation #africa

Masai Mara National Park KENYA
20

Shades of pale. Eastern Oregon. #Oregon #thewest #USA #america

Wallowa, Oregon
5