Orphaned elephants from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust , Ithumba Unit, are featured in this BBC video narrated by cameraman Gordon Buchanan as he films a short video from his “Elephant Family and Me” series. (“Wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan travels to the spectacular Tsavo wilderness in Kenya to try to get closer than ever before to a wild elephant family.”) The following is a transcript from “Baby Elephant takes her First Bath | BBC Earth” the YouTube video.
Opening scene: The elephant orphans, some with splotches of bright orange dirt adorning them, come ambling in toward their favorite mud hole & in their joy (maybe they recognize they are being filmed, or at least being adored) most seem almost to be almost dancing; shaking their heads, trunks and bodies, up & down and from side to side. Beautiful , happy elephants!
BBC Cameraman Gordon Buchanan : “Awwwwhhh look. Come on Gawa.”
“Baby Gawa, with nannies in attendance, is preparing for her very first bath. When you are just a few days old everything is an adventure.” (elephant trumpets)
“She is right on the edge, if you are not careful you are going to fall in, baby. Careful, careful, careful.” (baby elephant Gawa tumbles into mud hole after slipping and hitting herself harshly against the embankment) (sounds of elephant rumbles) “Oh, oops-a-daisy! That is one way to do it.
She is fine. (BBC Gordon Buchanan turning toward camera) Anything Wiva can do Gawa can do as well.”
“In comparison to Gawa, Wiva is looking strong and confident. So much so she is taking the hard way out of the water hole.”
“Up you come! You can do it. You can do it. Wendi lends a helping trunk.”
“Is that help or is that hindrance? No, that is help.” (laughs)
“In times of real need the nannies are still there for her.“
“That is so lovely to see.” (BBC Gordon Buchanan turning toward camera) “Look she is getting crowded round by other elephants. We see that she is struggling a little bit. She was just helping her out, it is a trunk coming down. That is really wonderful. You know that is a testament to how much Wiva has come on. (BBC Gordon Buchanan turning toward camera) She is pushing herself. She is testing her abilities. She is back on dry land.”
“Now it is Gawa’s turn.” (elephants rumbling) “Oops! Oh, I think you have come up too soon.” (baby elephant trying to get out of the mud hole) “That baby is going to struggle. Whoa, she is almost doing the splits!. Oh my goodness me. Bambi!”
“Up you come. Come on. Up you come. Come on. Come on.” (Gawa still struggling to get up the embankment with help from the ‘nanny elephants’ reaching out to her with their trunks) “Come on.” (elephants rumbling) “Come on. Oh, I see it…”
“At this age, she has limited energy reserves. Quickly she is overwhelmed with exhaustion. Baby elephants can perish stuck in the mud.“
(BBC Gordon Buchanan turning toward camera) “Her head is flat down in the mud. She is…she is really tired.”
“The adult members of this herd sometimes lack the experience to deal with problems. Normally, (elephant) herds are lead by an older Matriarch who would know how to get Gawa out of this mess.” (elephants trumpet as Gawa lays her head down on the banks breathing heavily, exhausted.)
(sounds of a vehicle arriving. It is a David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Jeep with Keeper Benjamin coming to assist his elephants) “Benjamin has to show them the easy way out. This (unintelligible) colors the moment. Okay, Benj is just going to go in and see if he can push them out.”
(Benjamin ushers the herd forward, pointing, clapping and swinging his arms as he walks behind the elephants encouraging them to walk ahead straight away; not to try to get the baby up the side, over the embankment, as they were doing.) “That is the one. Oh ho ho (laughs) That is doing it. Yeah, that is helping, definitely. Look, she is coming out.”
“Out you come. Keep coming. Keep coming. Keep coming. Keep coming. Keep coming.” (elephants rumble as they all walk out of water hole with baby Gawa in tow, under a close watch, this time!)
“Yeah, she’s out.” (BBC Gordon Buchanan wipes his hand across his forehead) “Whooo!”
“Look at that.” (BBC Gordon Buchanan pointing to baby Gawa as the elephant herd walks back in front of his camera, back to safety on dry land) “It is ridiculous. Look at that. (laughs) That is one very happy, very muddy baby elephant.” (Elephant herd stops and little Gawa, as she presses her head against her Mama’s leg, rubs her left front foot against the other as if trying to rid herself of the excess mud or maybe the almost-scary experience!
Image: CC Flickr: painting of sweet baby elephant by Roxi Loits (Baby elephant Gawa did not sit for this painting, although she looks remarkably like Wiva when, ears back, she climbed out of the mud hole! See both Gawa & Wiva in the BBC video)
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