A US missionary has described the moment he managed to rescue an orphaned baby elephant whose entire herd had been massacred by flying it home in a four-seater plane.
The nine-month-old animal, who was called Max by his rescuers, was found in a national park in Chad by pilot Gary Roberts.
Mr Roberts told the BBC World Service he flew to the area where the elephant massacre had occurred to see if reports of a sole surviving baby elephant were true.
Upon finding the massacre zone he witnessed “just piles of bones […] and large pools of blood on the ground that you could still see from so many animals”.
"We were able to confirm about 100 animals had indeed been massacred at that site," he said.
“[When we found Max] he was tied up to a tree where he had been for the last three-to-four days. He was getting weak, but also very angry because he had just been tied up to a tree”.
Mr Roberts said Max was initially hostile towards him, but after spending some time with the animal and feeding it formula it became “accepting” of him.
The group then loaded the 350lb creature into the four-seater plane and filmed the journey back to their compound, a 75-mile trip he described as a “tight fit”.
In the video, Max can be seen drinking water and moving around the aircraft.
“He was quite interested in playing with my controls at some point and would put his trunk forwards and feel my hands and face,” Mr Roberts said.
Tragically, Max died from the ordeal a week later, despite being under the 24-hour care of Mr Roberts and his wife.
“We pulled out all the stops, we did everything possible, "he said. "Taking care of a starved elephant is very similar to taking care of a starved human baby."
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