2017's Most Heartwrenching Animal Stories

2017's Most Heartwrenching Animal Stories

Posted by Leanne Sturrock on 27th Dec 2017

As we approach the end of the year, we’re looking back at five of 2017’s most heart-wrenching stories from our projects and around the world. While the stories we’re about to share are certainly upsetting, we endeavour to bring a little bit of hope to each of the tales accounted for below, and we implore our readers to do what they can to make a difference in any way possible.

First up is Amy’s story. Just a short while ago, Amy was subject to a devastatingly lonely existence. Bound by chains and kept in the dark, tight confines of a wooden crate, Amy’s situation could not have been more different to the life she should have been living. Instead of spending her days climbing trees and enjoying the freedoms of the rainforest, Amy was imprisoned. She knew nothing more than the hard walls of her wooden prison, a heavy chain around her neck restricting even the slightest of movements.

It is unknown exactly how long Amy had spent living in such awful conditions, but health checks suggest that she may have been kept captive since infancy - a total of seven years. Her ‘owner’ insisted that she had only been in the box for around a month, but the detriment to her bones appears to tell a different story: unable to straighten her legs and with a badly bent spine, Amy is highly likely to have lived in the box her entire life.

Orangutan rescue

Upon her rescue, Amy was devastatingly depressed, but still seemed to harbour a glimmer of optimism. As the doors to the crate were opened, Amy reached forward from her slumped position in the corner of the box, her eyes averted but still offering her hand to the stranger that had arrived to save her.

It may take some time to determine if Amy will ever be able to live back in the wild, but until then, read about the incredible hard work done by the team at the IAR Orangutan Project, and see how this brave ape is adjusting to a better life at the sanctuary.

Next, we look towards Namibia, where an orphaned baboon named Demi was taken in by the sanctuary and given a fighting chance of survival. After tragically losing her mother to human-wildlife conflict, Demi arrived at the sanctuary in a desperate state. She was severely compounded by a broken leg, and as such, the need for help was urgent. Fortunately, the veterinary team at the sanctuary were able to operate on Demi's injuries, and her recovery has been successful - owing much to the care of the staff and volunteers at the sanctuary, of course!

Baby baboon

Baboons arrive at the sanctuary often, and are a species that suffers all-too-regularly as a result of the pet trade or human-animal conflict. As a result of this, the sanctuary will always need assistance with baboon care. You can help by becoming a volunteer at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary, taking part in baboon care activities such as feeding, bathing and even babysitting these pint-sized primates.

Over to Sri Lanka now, and it’s time to meet the adorable Lorna, a new arrival (as of August) at The Great Elephant Project! A beautiful addition to the family, Lorna is the daughter of a mature elephant called Kumuduni, and the second baby to have been born in Wasgamuwa in that month. But despite being a happy and healthy young calf, a long road lay ahead: due to being born in the middle of the dry season, it was up to Lorna’s mother to provide enough nutrition for survival.

Baby elephant

The dry season can pose problems for lactating mothers, impacting an ability to supply milk. Had Kumuduni’s milk have run dry, Lora would have had to learn to eat at an early age – a task made all the more difficult by a lack of available forage.

Fortunately, the last we heard was that mother and baby were doing well, and we imagine that by now Lorna will have grown to quite a size! If you would like to pay Lorna and her herd a visit, why not check out the project page now?

Elsewhere in the world, tragedy took hold and posed a number of issues for one of Indonesia’s best coral reefs. When a British cruise ship went off course and ran aground of Raja Ampat, irreparable damage was inflicted upon the island’s tropical reefs. Roughly 1,600 square metres of the underwater ‘jungle’ were severely damaged, and it may take up to 100 years before the reef is back to the way it should be.

Raja Ampat

Fortunately, the incident did not impact the area on our own diving project, however Raja Ampat’s marine life is likely to have been affected. It’s for this reason that volunteer activities such as coral reef conservation and monitoring could be so important, allowing the reef’s health to be observed over long periods of time and allowing the local government a better understanding of the ocean’s progress since this incident.

Finally, we return to Indonesia’s rainforests and acknowledge the discovery of a brand-new species of orangutan. The Tapanuli immediately become the most endangered great ape, with a population of just 800 (less than the already tragically low populations of Sumatran and Bornean orangutan, at 14,613 and 105,000 respectively.)

Tapanuli orangutans

While the species was first happened upon in 1997, it has taken some time to classify it as separate to the other orangutan species, as scientists needed to examine a skeleton first. The devastatingly low number of Tapanuli orangutans stands as an example of why we must do all that we can to protect our rainforest cousins, and you can help to make a difference to the orangutans on our projects by becoming a volunteer today.


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