Eleven Elephants Rescued From Muddy Bomb Crater Doom


Tom Hale

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

The 11-strong herd included three adult females and eight juveniles. WCS Cambodia

Conservation can often seem like a lot of doom and gloom. But finally, there's some actual positive, feel-good news about an endangered species.

Eleven Asian elephants were successfully rescued on Friday after they had became trapped in a deep mud pit in Cambodia.


The mud-filled pit was a bomb crater in Cambodia's Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary that dates from the Vietnam War. Nowadays, it’s used as a small reservoir of water for farmers and, evidently, a hangout for elephants.

Over the previous weekend, farmers noticed that a parade of elephants had become stuck in the slippery 3.3-meter-high (10-foot-high) walls. They notified the Department of Environment, who employed the help of the Wildlife Conservation Society to mobilize a rescue.

The effort involved the construction of a fit-for-purpose ramp to help them out, during which time the team kept them fed and hydrated. Within a few hours, 10 of the 11 elephants made it out. The remaining one they left behind (good one, guys) was eventually roped out by locals and wildlife officers.

"This herd consisted of three adult females and eight juveniles of various ages, including a male that had almost reached maturity. These elephants represent an important part of the breeding population in Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, and their loss would have been a major blow for conservation,” Tan Setha, WCS Technical Advisor to the area, said in a statement.


Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) are listed as an endangered species under the IUCN Red List. This is largely due to habitat loss and decades of poaching. In Cambodia itself, there are an estimated 250 to 600 individuals left in wild, so even saving this one significant herd will make a tangible difference.

"Too often the stories around conservation are about conflict and failure, but this is one about cooperation and success,” added Dr Ross Sinclair, WCS Country Director.