It is hard to believe that these animals are being lifted by cranes onto trucks. It looks dangerous, but thanks to the experience of the crew involved, the animals are perfectly safe.
Cranes and slings are used to gently lift the elephants into the waiting trucks. This loading method is tried and tested – thousands of elephants have been loaded in this way. It is 100% safe for the animals. Their legs are double strapped and it’s a very quick operation. They are in the air for less than 60 seconds and it only takes a few seconds to lay them down in the truck. They are asleep at this point and totally unaware of their surroundings.
It is a delicate operation that can only be carried out by experts.
Notice the markings on the elephants’ hides. Each animal is marked up for easy identification to ensure family groups are loaded together. While they are sleeping, measurements are also taken of foot size, tusk length and so on. This information helps build a profile of the herd which is useful in park management.
Meanwhile the vet will be monitoring the vital signs of all the animals, checking their breathing remains regular.
When each animal is lifted it has to be laid carefully inside the truck so that when it is brought around again it has space to move and calves are always placed right next to their mothers, because the first thing she does when waking up is look for her calf. Even before standing she will feel around with her trunk until she finds it. Family bonds are very tight in elephant herds so when standing up, they will take care not to hurt smaller animals in the truck. After a short while the elephants are brought around. They are kept slightly sedated to keep them calm but adults will stand during the journey that lies ahead. Calves might lay down for parts of the it, the adults will stand against the sides to not step on the sleeping youngsters.