When an animal lover saw an injured wolf limping by the side of the road, the sight tugged on their heartstrings. Little did they know that the animal had been there for some time and not one person had stopped to help the poor creature. But now they alone were determined to do the humane thing.
Arabian wolves are the smallest variety of wolf in the world. Their petite size helps the animal to adapt to the warm climate of the Arabian Peninsula where they are found. Unlike other species, Arabian wolves don’t live in big packs. Instead, they roam their desert homes in Israel, Yemen, Jordan, Oman and Iraq in compact groups comprising of two to four canines.
Despite their relatively large distribution, the Arabian wolf population is quite small. In Israel for example, there are only around 150 of the animals left in the wild. And part of the issue of their rarity is the wolves’ relationship with humans.
Arabian wolves are primarily carnivores and are more than capable of preying on animals as large as goats. As a result, farmers consider them predators and will often trap, shoot or poison the wolves in order to protect their own livestock.
Another issue is the public perception of the animals. While Arabian wolves do prefer to feast on meat, they also sometimes feed on human food waste. This means that the creatures can be found close to human settlements, causing panic among the population there.
In Israel, a series of encounters between wolves and humans – some of which resulted in bite attacks – near the Israeli tourist havens of Masada and Ein Gedi sparked outrage in 2017. Consequently, nature reserve managers laid out traps in a bid to stem the advance of the animals. However, some locals believed that the wolf population should be removed altogether.
With wolf popularity at an all time low, it’s unsurprising that many people have shown disdain towards the animals. For example when someone hit a wolf with their car in rural Israel in 2016, they simply drove on, leaving the animal to die alone.
The injured and no doubt terrified wolf was later spotted hobbling up and down the roadside. It was clear to see that the animal was in an immense amount of pain. And without intervention, it seemed likely that it might even die.
Thankfully though, someone took a chance on the injured wolf. Ignoring all the bad things that they’d heard about the animals in the news, they pulled over and decided to help. However, given the state that the wolf was in, the driver had no idea if their actions would be in vain.
For the driver though, anything was worth a try. So, they rushed the wolf to The Israeli Wildlife Hospital in the city of Ramat Gan, about 25 minutes outside of Tel Aviv. The veterinary surgery is esteemed within Israel and prides itself on its impartial treatment of any and all animals that pass through its doors.
Speaking of the hospital’s work to The Times of Israel website in 2013, the manager at the time – Ronni – explained, “If it’s wild we accept it. Doesn’t matter if it’s a snake or a weasel, a deer or a hyena.” She added, “Our main aim is to return wild animals to nature, to preserve species, especially in a sensitive area like Israel.”
With that in mind, it seemed that the injured wolf was in the best place possible. When he arrived at the hospital, staff there named him Oliel and quickly got to work on his treatment. An x-ray soon revealed that the animal had suffered a broken leg and would therefore require surgery.
Consequently, vets sedated Oliel in preparation for his procedure. Once he was knocked out, they carefully put his leg back together. However, even though the surgery went to plan, the wolf was not yet out of the woods.
To give him a fighting chance of being released back into the wild, Oliel’s leg would first need to recover. So, for the time being, vets assigned him to a life in captivity. That way, they could keep a close eye on his recuperation to ensure that things were healing in the way that they should be.
Before the vets could discharge him from the hospital, Oliel would first have to demonstrate that he was fit for life in the wild. He would need to be able to hunt and find food for himself, as well as run away from danger when necessary.
Oliel’s recovery must have gone to plan, because four months after arriving at the hospital he was ready to return to the wild. However, the wolf still had one obstacle to overcome – the car journey to his release spot.
In order to deliver him to his new life, hospital staff loaded Oliel into a crate and stowed him on a truck. And given his ordeal, the sounds of the vehicle must have brought back some traumatic memories for the wolf. However, the journey would soon be over.
Soon Oliel and those caring for him arrived at their intended destination. When they did so, vets opened up the crate and waited for the wolf to emerge. However, for a few moments, it appeared that the animal was too scared to move.
Eventually though, he must have realized that the time had come for him to return to the wild. As a result, he leapt from his crate and ran off into the open expanse in front of him. Clearly overjoyed, the animal skipped to his freedom so enthusiastically that it was hard to tell that he’d ever been injured.
So, thanks to the kind stranger who picked Oliel up that day, the wolf got a second chance at life. The individual could have easily kept on driving like so many others, but instead they stopped to help out a fellow living creature. And seeing the joy on Oliel’s face when he was released must have been the perfect reward.