Baby Orphan Elephant Rescued After Malaysian Moat Misstep

Endangered pachyderm called ‘Chinese New Year miracle’ by rescue team.

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Baby Orphan Elephant Rescued After Malaysian Moat Misstep
Wildlife officials in Sabah, Borneo treat a recently rescued Borneo Pygmy Elephant calf, the fifth abandoned calf to be rescued on Borneo since 2009. (Sabah Wildlife Department / Reuters)

“Elephants are one of the best mothers in the animal kingdom, they do not abandon their babies,” said Dr. Sen Nathan of the Sabah Wildlife Rescue Unit in Malaysia. “The baby elephants are not only cared for by the mother but also by older siblings and other adult females in the herd,” Nathan told the New Straits Times.

Nathan was referring to an orphaned baby pygmy elephant found stuck in a deep moat in the remote state of Sabah, on the island of Borneo.

Palm oil plantation workers found the severely dehydrated elephant and called Sabah’s Wildlife Rescue Unit. The calf had probably spent more than a day trying to free himself and weighed only 10 pounds when rescued. Veterinarians on the recovery team administered large doses of intravenous fluids and treated the elephant’s wounds and abrasions.

Borneo Pygmy elephants are under increasing pressure from human expansion and agriculture. More human activity means more conflict between the needs of animals and humans. Only 2,000 remain in the wild, sadly.

“A veterinarian and four staff are providing the baby elephant with 24-hour intensive care,” Nathan said.

"If [he] can survive for the next 72 hours, [he] has better chances of pulling through.”

Wildlife authorities have announced plans to create a 3,000-acre elephant sanctuary in Sabah to help injured elephants and those young ones who were re-released into the wild prematurely. The sanctuary is slated to open at the end of this year.