They say that an elephant’s familial ties can be stronger than that of humanity’s closest.
And this bond between this baby elephant and its loved ones probably saved the boy’s life when his family rallied to save him from drowning on a muddy riverbank.
A touching set of photos taken in the Sabah region of Borneo shows the calf having difficulty trying to climb the slope after crossing the Kinabatangan River with his mother.
When the boy was suffering, his mother tried to help him by using her trunk to push him to the bank.
But this mission is too difficult for her.
Given the animals’ traditional close family ties, it is not surprising that two relatives came to the rescue.
The couple tried to flatten the mud around the calf, making it easy for him to climb to a safe position.
Once the calf is safe, groups of adults will gather around him as he clings to his mother’s feet in a lovely show of solidarity.
Beniot Goossens, a photographer of the Danau Girang Field Center in Sabah, said it took all three adults about half an hour to get the baby on the road again.
He said: ‘We have crossed the river, but the bank is too steep for the calf.
‘The mother tried to push it away, but she couldn’t handle the so-called two family members on her own.
‘While the mother pushes, others flatten the mud to make the calf more accessible. About half an hour later, they were on their way.’
Benoit describes this spectacle as ’emotional’.
He added: ‘I have been studying elephants for many years, but some of the students I attend have been blown away by the elephant’s behavior.
‘It shows that animals generally take better care of each other than humans do.’
Elephants are known to live in close matriarchal families with adult females taking care of sick, injured, or orphaned offspring.
Like human babies, calves stay with their mothers until they reach adolescence, with some female elephants known to stay with their parents for life.
Elephants usually give birth to one calf every two to four years, with their offspring weighing about 200lbs at birth and 3ft tall. In the end, they grow to 9.8ft tall and consume 270kg of food per day.
Asian elephants have been domesticated for thousands of years. Powerful beasts have been used to move heavy objects, such as felled trees, carry people on their backs, and even wage war.