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, however, that the animal had been there for some time and not one person had stopped to help the poor creature. So it was just this person alone who was determined to do the humane thing.
Arabian wolves are the smallest variety of wolf in the world. But their petite size helps the animals adapt to the warm climate of the Arabian Peninsula where they are found. And 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.
Yet 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, you see, and 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. Because although Arabian wolves prefer to feast on meat, they do sometimes feed on human food waste. This means that the creatures can be found close to human settlements, causing panic among the local population.
In Israel, in fact, a series of encounters – some of which resulted in bite attacks – between wolves and humans 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. Yet some locals believed that the wolf population should have been removed altogether.
And with wolf popularity at an all-time low, it’s perhaps 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, potentially 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 his rescuer that the animal was in an immense amount of pain. And without intervention, it seemed likely that he might even die.
Thankfully, though, someone took a chance on the injured wolf when they pulled over and decided to help. However, given the state that the wolf was in, the driver likely had no idea if their actions would be in vain.
For the driver, though, it seemed that anything was worth a try. So they took the wolf to The Israeli Wildlife Hospital in the city of Ramat Gan, about 25 minutes outside of Tel Aviv. This 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 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 later 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 taken to the best place possible. And after he arrived at the hospital, staff named him Oliel and got to work on his treatment. An x-ray then revealed that the animal had suffered a broken leg and would therefore require surgery.
Consequently, vets sedated Oliel in preparation for his procedure. And once the animal was knocked out, staff carefully put his leg back together. Yet even though the surgery went to plan, the wolf was not out of the woods.
To give Oliel a fighting chance of being released back into the wild, his 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, then, Oliel would first have to demonstrate that he was fit for life in the wild. So he would need to be able to hunt and find food for himself as well as run away from danger when necessary.
Well, Oliel’s recovery must have gone to plan because four months after arriving at the hospital he was ready to return to the wild. The wolf still had one obstacle to overcome, however: 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 could have brought back some traumatic memories for the wolf. However, the journey was soon over.
When Oliel and those caring for him arrived at their intended destination, vets opened up the crate and waited for the wolf to emerge. For a few moments, however, 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 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, but instead they stopped to help out a fellow living creature. And seeing the joy on Oliel’s face when he was released might have been the perfect reward.