Sunday, 17 July 2016, saw the start of a story that captured the imagination of Namibia’s (and the world’s) animal lovers and those who feel that the abuse of those unable to defend themselves is an abhorrent act. It was the start of the story of Hope.
An anti-poaching unit that does regular patrols in the Windhoek area, heard pain-filled screams on the Sunday afternoon in question and immediately investigated. Finding a baboon tied to a tree by her neck, members of the anti-poaching unit cut her free and rushed her to the anctuary where Marlice took over, estimating her age to be between 5 and 6 years.
A thorough medical examination revealed the shocking extent and duration of the abuse – broken feet, burnt hindquarters which had caused her toes to melt together, a broken left hand, bite and burn wounds on her head and face, to name a few – and the state of the injuries indicating that the abuse had been inflicted over many months.
The physical trauma was greatly compounded by the emotional stress the hapless baboon was forced to endure.
Completely withdrawn, only copious amounts of love, soothing chatter and tempting food treats started bringing the glow of life back to an animal on the verge of abandoning the will to live. Her sheer tenacity, combined with the care she received from the sanctuary team, inspired us to name her Hope.
Hope was certainly a fighter! Her wounds made a remarkable recovery, and her appetite ensured that her undernourished frame gained weight each day.
Placed in an enclosure bordering that of a troop of fellow sanctuary baboons, Hope’s progress became even more remarkable. An automatic bond formed between the primates, and gradually Hope started to join the youngster baboon troop on their daily walks on the reserve. She soon opted not to return to the enclosure but embrace freedom instead, resident wild baboons on the reserve accepting her into their midst and allowing her to become a part of the troop.
There she remained, regular sightings reassuring the team of her continued wellbeing and safety. The “happily ever after” was reinforced when our staff spotted Hope in April, proudly carrying her baby – the final chapter in her complete acceptance back into the wild where she rightly belongs and signifying her ultimate conquering of a tortured past.
And we will always be inspired by the lesson she inadvertently taught us – never give up hope!