SABAH, BORNEO ML - They say that an elephant’s family ties can be stronger than those of even the closest knit human clan.

And the bond between this elephant calf and its relatives probably saved this youngster’s life when his family rallied round to save him from drowning when he got stuck on a muddy river bank.

A touching set of pictures taken in the Sabah region of Borneo show the calf getting into difficulty as it tried to clamber up the steep bank after crossing the river Kinabatangan with his mother.

With the youngster distressed, mother tries to come to his aid by pushing him up the bank with her trunk.

But the task proves too tricky for her on her own. Given the animals’ traditionally close family bonds, it is no surprise that two relatives came to the rescue. The pair managed to flatten the mud around the calf, making it easier for him to climb to safety. Once the calf is safe, the adult group gather round him as he clings close to his mother’s legs in an adorable show of unity. Photographer Beniot Goossens, of the Danau Girang Field Centre in Sabah, said that it took all three adults about half an hour to get the baby on its way again.