My parents recently paid me a visit at my home in New Zealand, and for the 40 odd days that they were here with me, life seemed perfect. When I finally waved goodbye to them at Wellington airport, I flashed them a bright smile and only after they had disappeared behind the walls that lead to immigration, did I finally let that lump in my throat mix with the horrible emptiness in the pit of my stomach. The result: a long, silent, drive back home broken by teary vision, intermittent sobbing and loud wailing.
Its always the same – the emotional upheavals I experience when I’m separated from my parents. And contrary to popular opinion, it doesn’t get better with age. This got me thinking about all the baby animals that are orphaned, torn away cruelly from their mothers, and led to dark and despairing lives. The agony they go through must be off the charts – seemingly insurmountable, indescribable by human standards!
Take the little orphaned baby rhino found struggling in a stream in Kaziranga for instance. No one knows what happened to his mother – he could have been separated from her due to natural causes, or worse, she may have fallen prey to poachers. He was so tiny by rhino standards, that his body armour was still baggy and his ears still too big for his head, when he was found fighting against the current. Thankfully, aside from a little dehydration, the little calf is doing rather well at the wildlife rehabilitation centre there.
Not all wild orphans are that lucky….
Udin – a baby orangutan rescued and cared for by International Animal Rescue was holding on to his mother for dear life, when poachers hacked her down with a machete. It is most likely that Udin was torn away from his mother’s body while she was still warm, and sold to a local farmer. Malnourished, dehydrated, terrified, alone and locked up in a dark, dank cage, Udin suffered such severe mental and physical trauma, that he stopped eating or drinking and began detaching himself completely from his environment. Extensive medical care, coupled with constant interactive sessions, have helped him stabilise a bit, but he has a long way to go for complete recovery.
Real trauma. All too real suffering.
The massive deforestation of tropical rainforests for increasingly burgeoning palm oil production hasn’t helped the situation of the orangutans, with wild orang numbers down by 50% in the past decade. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has reportedly classified the Bornean Orangutan as Endangered with approximately 55,000 left, with 5,000 killed a year. The Sumatran orangutan is Critically Endangered with approximately 6,300 left in the wild and 1,000 being killed a year.
There’s more where the statistics come from.
According to sources, over 790 rhinos were poached in South Africa in 2103 alone, whereas nearly 62% of the wild African elephant population was wiped out in the past 12 years.
According to the WWF, illegal wildlife trade is “the fifth most profitable illicit trade in the world, estimated at up to $10 billion annually,” ranking behind drug and weapons trafficking.
The statistics are appalling and overwhelming to say the least. But it’s like I always say – when the attitude is right, and when human will aligns with it, everyone – EVERYONE – can make a difference.
- Sign petitions.
- Boycott wild animal products and animals in tourism industry in totality.
- Educate yourself and then spread the word as far and wide as you can.
- Donate generously to legitimate organisations that are fighting tooth and nail to keep the mass extinction tide from becoming a tsunami. Volunteer at these organisations – time and energy donations are just as important as financial contributions.
The bottom line is: every baby – human or animal – deserves to be loved. Compassion is the only attribute, the one gift that comes at no price whatsoever.
Be aware, be conscientious, do the right thing. Give a baby wild animal the gift of selfless love.