This is the devastating moment a baby elephant refused to leave the body of her dead mother, who was killed by poachers for her tusks.
The heartbreaking images show 18-month-old Zongoloni sticking by her mum’s side, bravely chasing off any intruders that approached.
The calf was also seen stroking her mum with her trunk, devastated and confused at the loss she had suffered.
Two weeks earlier, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) and Kenya Wildlife Service Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit found the mother injured from a poacher’s bullet in her leg.
They managed to treat the shattered bone and release her back into the wild with Zongoloni but she collapsed and died – leaving her baby to fend for herself.
The team later returned to rescue the baby animal, who had grown weak without her mother’s milk.
Robert Brandford, executive director of DSWT UK, told The Dodo: “The saddest part was knowing that when we found her collapsed, both mother and calf had been without food or water for some time as the bullet wound had left her almost completely immobile.
”This agony, pain and heartbreak had been caused from a single bullet. Zongoloni’s mother was clearly targeted for her ivory tusks.”
Zongolini was taken to a nursery in Nairobi in 2013 where she got through the pain of her loss surrounded by other orphaned elephants.
She now lives at DSWT’s rehabilitation unit at Umani Springs in Kenya – and she will eventually be returned to the wild.
Brandford added: ”Zongoloni will one day return to the wild and begin a family of her own.
“Man took away her mother’s life and we are determined to give Zongoloni the wild life she truly deserves.”
Top pic: DSWT