By Alex Taylor

A DISTRESSED elephant tries to protect her unconscious baby in a heartbreaking display of motherly love

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Videographer / Director: The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Producer: Mark Hodge, Nick Johnson
Editor: Sonia Estal

A mother's love: The elephant desperately tries to help her calf

The dramatic footage shows a calf being darted by a compassionate veterinary team after it was injured by a poacher's snare.

The traumatic scenes took place at the Olaro Motorogi Conservancy in South West Kenya, after a call came through reporting a calf dragging a snare on his hind leg.

The adult clearly sees the camera as a threat and mock charges it

But when the SkyVets from David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Kenya Wildlife Service tried to treat the two-year-old, the protective mother tried to rouse her baby from the anaesthetic - before also being darted to ensure her parental instincts did not interfere with the rescue effort.

The baby has been darted by the rescue team who intend to treat its injured leg

Rob Brandford, Executive Director of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (UK), spoke about the emotional footage, which was shot in October of last year.

The mother was later darted by the team to enable them to start working on the vulnerable calf

He said: “The mother was extremely protective of her baby and without putting her under anaesthetic too, the SkyVet could not have safely intervened.

“With their herd waiting anxiously nearby, there was a need to act as quickly as possible.

Race against time: The heroic vets prepare to treat the injured animal

“The snare was quickly removed from the calf’s leg using a wire cutter. Thankfully, it had not cut through the skin and did not cause injury.”

A picture of the deadly poacher's snare which was wrapped around the youngster's leg

And Rob revealed that the baby could have been severely injured if not for the quick actions of the heroic rescue team.

The mother lies unconscious while the team diligently treat her baby calf

He said: “In recent years SkyVet and our other mobile vet units have treated several elephants suffering from horrendous wounds caused by snares that have slowly tightened after time, cutting into their feet and legs.

In the good hands: The SkyVets are able to help the baby who is then released back into the wild

“Fortunately, this baby was found quickly and soon released back to the herd – fully recovered and reunited with his mother. It’s a happy ending for this family – and a story of hope for a species being hard-hit by ivory poaching”

An experienced vets treats the small elephant