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In a small Madagascan village, a foul smell kept emanating from a seemingly abandoned house. It was so strong that the entire area was nearly suffocated by the stench. The neighbours tried to ignore the strange smell, but eventually, they couldn't put up with it anymore. So, they called the police to investigate what was happening. What they found inside the house came as a huge shock.
At first, the locals didn't want to bother the authorities with what seemed like a trivial issue. Instead, they banded together and decided to get in the house themselves to locate the source of the pungent smell. Having no clue if there was trouble inside, the residents approached the foul-smelling house cautiously. But then they noticed something that forced them to call the police.
The neighbors saw someone coming and going from the house that they thought had been abandoned. They couldn't believe anyone would dare even go near the rancid-smelling house, let alone going inside of it. At this point, the villagers came to the conclusion that the house was suspicious, and that it was time to call the police.
After receiving the call, the police decided to carry out their duty. Not knowing what they would be greeted with, the police brought in some specialists, including a medical examiner and an officer named Soary Randrianjafizanaka, who was a wildlife expert, and had lots of experience with foul smells. Although she had an idea of what they might be up against, this time she was totally wrong.
Upon arriving at the house, the officers realized that the atrocious stench was something they couldn't put their finger on, and even Soary was beside herself. She had never smelled anything quite like it. Other than the foul scent, the house looked quite normal from the outside. It was hard to believe such a good looking house was harboring a dark secret inside.
Uncertain of what they would find, the officers prepared themselves to enter, and found it so quiet inside that you could hear a pin drop. The unpleasant smell got stronger and many of the officers even started to become lightheaded. As they kept moving deeper into the house, they were completely engulfed in the foul scent. Still, the source of the smell was nowhere to be seen.
As everyone was trying to figure out what the smell could be, Soary was almost certain it must be animal related, because typically only animals are capable of producing such an atrocious stench. Still, humans could not be completely ruled out, even if the conditions were not bearable for any person in their right mind. Then, they heard a strange noise, and suddenly, everyone was on their guard.
There were indeed other people in the house. When the investigating team came face-to-face with the unidentified guys, they found them digging holes with shovels in their hands. Both parties were in complete shock. The officers were more confused though and didn't know what to make of it. When they asked what they were doing, the hole-digging guys began acting strange.
The diggers seemed to be trying to hide something. As the police moved closer, they dropped their shovels and put their hands up in the air, as if they had been caught red handed. Though they still didn't know what the suspects were guilty of, the police assumed that they had done something bad and promptly arrested them. Out of curiosity, the team headed back to see what they had been hiding.
The authorities braved the smell once again and entered the rooms. The interior of the house had been entirely destroyed. Everything was falling apart, and cobwebs covered ceilings and windows. While searching for the source of the foul stench, they suddenly noticed that the floor seemed to be moving. The officers were startled until they realized what they were looking at.
The whole floor was packed with countless tortoises and more were scattered over the rest of the house. Speechless and in a state of disbelief, Soary soon realized that these were no ordinary tortoises. They were radiated tortoises, which are rare, and only a few call Madagascar home. The species are known for their docile nature and the unique markings on their shells. All at once it made sense why the people arrested had all these creatures.
These rare tortoises are often poached by criminals to be sold on the black market as a delicacy or as a pet. Though the stealing and trading of these tortoises is against the law, there are many underground operations that still exist. Once thriving with a population of 12 million, the species has been reduced to a population of around 3 million in the wild. In the house, there were incredibly over 9,000 of them, all horribly mistreated. The team instantly knew what they needed to do.
They needed to relocate these tortoises from the appalling conditions to a safe and suitable place as soon as possible. Having been horrendously treated, many of these animals were on the brink of death. Fortunately, these poor and precious creatures had been found and could be saved. However, the specialists soon learned a hard truth.
The tortoises would not survive to the next week because most of them were severely ill. Even with vets working around the clock, it was still impossible to care over 9,000 tortoises. The neighbors were in disbelief by what had been found inside. Thankfully, they called about the issue. Otherwise, the criminal mistreatment of these animals would have continued and the tortoises would have all come to a brutal end.
Apart from these tortoises, many other kinds of animals suffer cruelty on a daily basis. Consumed by greed and money, many people forget that animals are living beings just like humans and that they deserve to be treated with respect. The story went viral and raised awareness about animal cruelty. As a result, there have also been calls for reform of the pet industry, for the sake of the legal animals as well.
Fortunately, after the vets did all they could, around 8,000 of the dehydrated tortoises survived. Now, the question was what to do with them. The team was sure that no one institution could watch over such a large number of tortoises. Still, they were afraid that simply releasing them back into the wild would put them at risk of being poached once again, or of dying of maladaptation.
Fortunately, teams of passionate experts were incredibly excited to take them on. They supply plenty of attention, food, and water, as well as keeping them safe and comfortable. The tortoises have never had a better life. At this point, the researchers are focusing on how to get their population numbers back up, not just for this group of tortoises, but the species overall.
While these mistreated tortoises were now thriving once again thanks to the dedicated experts, the criminals and animal abusers who illegally captured and hoarded these poor tortoises received the justice they deserved - long prison sentences. This sends a message to all who might be involved in such cruel and illegal activities.
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