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KENYA — Elephants live in matriarchal herds. Basically this means the oldest female is in charge of the herd, and boy-howdy she is in charge. (Adult males either live on their own or in male herds.)
Cows are known for putting themselves in danger to protect the herd, especially if a calf even looks like it may have the chance of getting into any amount of trouble.
The tour group watches as a herd of elephants attempts to cross the Ewaso Nyiro River, which was running high and swiftly due to recent rains. The 6-month-old calf is hesitant to cross, but eventually makes the attempt with the reassuring presence of its baby sitter.
However, the river is too deep for its little legs, and the calf starts to float down the river. The baby sitter is quick to react, but she can’t quite get the calf to complete safety herself.
After a tense minute, the matriarch comes to the rescue. She boxes out two elephants in her path and quickly backs down the embankment to tag-team the rescue.
You even get the feeling that the herd members hovering nearby are waiting to see if they need to help out too.
But to the satisfaction of all parties, the rescue is short and successful, and humans and elephants collectively breathe a sigh of relief.