By Hayley Pugh
This is the heart-warming moment a loyal herd pulled together to save a baby elephant who tumbled into a watering hole.
The terrified youngster slipped into the pit and found itself knee-deep in mud and sludge as it frantically tried to climb out.
In these superb pictures and video footage, its mum can be seen making fruitless attempts to pull the youngster to safety before a larger female steps in, bends to her knees and miraculously manages to push the baby out of danger with her trunk.
Photographer, Richard Tustin, who spent hours at the hole waiting for something memorable to happen, said he could hear the mum screaming in despair and saw the look of terror in her eyes as she tried to haul her calf to safety.
He said he could also hear triumphant trumpeting once the baby had been saved.
The 59-year-old was visiting Nxai Pan Park in Botswana with his wife Vanessa when they witnessed the extraordinary moment.
Richard, who lives in Australia, managed to capture a series of images, while his wife filmed the last few moments of the dramatic rescue.
He said: “The first few frames show the calf in the water, followed by the initial fruitless attempts by the mother to pull it out.
“She was screaming in despair and just look at those eyes – pure terror. She was pretty small and most likely it was her first baby.
“After several attempts a larger female came rushing in and literally pushed her out of the way, went down on her knees and pushed the baby out, followed by a triumphant trumpeting as if to say “I did it”.
“So human-like and touching. Afterwards they settled down and walked off.
“It was a truly memorable sighting and really just highlights how intelligent these animals are and how there social structure operates.
“Fortunately I had me camera ready and on fast shutter speed.
“It was all over in a minute but we had spent hours sitting at this particular waterhole and were well rewarded with some outstanding footage of elephant behaviour.
“The mother was beside herself and the triumphant trumpeting at the end was just awesome. It probably is fairly common however rarely viewed.
“Elephants have an extremely strong social structure.
“Our preference when visiting the parks is to sit and observe behaviour which we did for hours on our recent trip. It’s like watching a live movie – seeing their interaction with each other, the hierarchy amongst lone bulls, babies interacting with other youngsters.
“We do not give them enough credit as to their intelligence and could learn from them.
“It breaks my heart when human beings make decisions ad hoc which impact on their lives negatively.
“We as humans are arrogant and stupid and are slowly destroying the world we live in.
“We should observe nature more and learn from the experience.
“If it weren’t for humans the environment would look after itself. We don’t have to intervene all the time.”