Towards the end of last season, we awoke at camp to see an old elephant cow lying in the pan. She spent most of the day trying to get up but was unfortunately too weak.

That afternoon a young elephant bull tried to help her but was sadly unsuccessful. Shortly afterwards, another young bull came to the scene; we assumed he was coming to help. The sequence of photos below is just a few of the many that were taken of the ordeal that followed, which lasted about 45 minutes. At first, it looked as if the bull was trying to lift up the cow, as was the case with the previous bull. However, the interaction became more aggressive and, possibly out of frustration, sadly the bull ended up killing the old elephant cow.

This is nature in its rawest form and we cannot put a human emotion or reasoning to the very sad event. Was it a mercy killing, an unfortunate accident of nature trying to help or an ultimate show of dominance by the bull? It is incredibly difficult to say with absolute conviction. In the end, old, tired and weak, compounded by the relentless struggle with the bull, the old elephant cow eventually succumbed…

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