It warms our hearts whenever we hear of stories about kindhearted humans going out of their way to rescue animals in peril. Here’s one such heartwarming animal rescue story. One dedicated Indian veterinary surgeon and his team did their utmost to save a male striped hyena from the verge of death. Finally, their efforts paid off when the wild animal woke up from an eight-month coma in June 2018.
In late October 2017, the striped hyena landed itself in a tragic situation after roaming into the village of Bijil Kuttai, in Tamil Nadu, India, The Times of India reported.
Legend has it that hyenas eat children.
However, according to the San Diego Zoo website, the striped hyenas, marked with dark eyes, thick black muzzle, and big, pointed ears, are mostly scavengers. They are not “very aggressive and usually avoid contact with other animals.”
“Misunderstood and viewed as dangerous or destructive, it is poisoned, trapped, or shot for supposedly preying on livestock or raiding farms,” San Diego Zoo said.
Hence, it seems that the villagers brutally thrashed the hyena to death, fearing that the “dangerous” wild animal would cause harm.
The villagers thought the striped hyena was dead. However, it survived, though on the verge of death.
While patrolling on Nov. 4, 2017, the forest staff of the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR) discovered the poor dog-like African mammal close to a human settlement near Bijil Kuttai.
The hyena was found unconscious, The Better India reported. Moreover, the animal had injuries all over its body.
Seeing the hyena’s miserable state, the forest staff did not pin high hopes on its survival. Nonetheless, they still alerted Dr. Krish Asokan, a forest veterinary surgeon at STR.
Dr. Asokan jumped in to save the hyena. After transporting the animal to the STR’s Forest Veterinary Unit (FVU) at Karachikorai that evening, the veterinary surgeon and his team—including nurse Balamani, livestock inspector Senthil Kumar and his assistant Marimuthu, as well as biologist Ganesh and his assistant Kesavan—did their best to save it.
V Naganathan, chief conservator of forest, Erode district, thinks the striped hyena might have lost its way as it entered the human habitat in search of food and water.
The savage attack left the male hyena in critical condition, suffering from life-threatening complications.
It sustained severe injury to its head, had a swollen forehead and neck, a dislocated shoulder joint, missing canine teeth, an impaired cornea, corneal ulcers, and a wounded right eyebrow and ear; additionally, its right ear was infested with maggots.
An x-ray and MRI scan also detected multiple fractures all around its body—on the ribs, the eleventh thoracic vertebra (T11), the inner body, and the left shoulder, to name a few.
On top of everything, the hyena had vestibular disease, a condition that affects the body’s balance systems, causing the animal’s head to tilt and circle in just one direction.
In spite of the striped hyena’s slim chance of survival, they were not willing to let the mammal die, due to the fact that it’s a “near-threatened” species, as categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
In fact, the endangered hyena is an extremely rare sight in the south Indian forest.
“The number of hyenas in South Indian forests is on the decline and the species has already been brought under schedule one of the Wildlife Protection Act,” V Naganathan told The Times of India.
Luckily, there was a glimmer of hope for this striped hyena. Ascertaining that its shoulder joint dislocation could be treated, the orthopaedic surgeon performed a reconstructive surgery on the animal.
However, the hyena never regained its consciousness and remained in a coma for many months.
Dr. Asokan and his team diligently took care of the sick mammal all this time.
The dedication of Dr. Asokan and his team did not end in vain. One fine day in June 2018, the hyena finally woke up after eight months in a coma.
“If I am right, it’s the first time in the country that an animal is recovering from a coma,” V Naganathan said.
Since being rescued, Dr. Asokan and his team have fed the hyena with “three liters of milk, 3 kg (approx. 7 pounds) of beef, 3 kg of chicken, 10 eggs, bread and multivitamin tonics” daily in the hope of nursing the badly wounded animal back to health.
The hyena, which used to be merely 40 pounds (approx. 18 kg), weighs 94.1 pounds (approx. 42.7 kg) as of January 2019. It has recovered up to 60 percent, as per Deccan Chronicle.
Though the hyena has made considerable health improvements, the chances of it surviving on its own in the wild are pretty slim. So authorities have no choice but to shelter it at the Forest Veterinary Unit (FVU) until it draws its last breath.
Dr. Asokan is prepared to give his all to help this 8-year-old striped hyena survive, because it belongs to a “near-threatened” species, which are the least studied.
Gepostet von Krish Asokan am Sonntag, 20. Januar 2019
“The number of hyenas in the country would be less than 5,000. If I save this male hyena, it could produce at least another five hyenas during its life time,” Dr. Asokan said.
The striped hyena’s life expectancy is 10 to 12 years in the wild and around 20 years in zoos.
Dr. Asokan is determined to save the striped hyena even if it means having to spend almost US$686 (INR 48,000) every month—out of his own pocket—on its food and medicine, due to insufficient funding from the forest department.
“Though we are getting fund from the forest department for its maintenance, we are also spending a lot from our pocket,” a senior STR official said.
What Dr. Asokan and his team have done to give the hyena a second chance at life, as well as to protect wild animals, is truly commendable.
Kudos to these great human beings for their amazing wildlife conservation efforts!