In Madagascar, a house was reported to authorities for having a distinct smell coming from it. Nobody in the neighborhood knew exactly what it was, but they could tell that something was wrong. The people who lived near the house tried to ignore it for as long as they could until they decided that it was time to call in the professionals. Although nobody knew what to expect, nobody could anticipate what they would actually find.
A Strange Smell
For some time, a home in Madagascar that was believed to be vacant was giving off a pungent and foul smell. While many of the residents in the area thought that the house had been abandoned, that was far from the truth.
At one point, the smell became so intense that the people in the neighborhood felt as though they were being suffocated. They wondered how such a smell could come from a house with nobody in it!
They Pinpointed The Location
At first, the residents in the neighborhood couldn’t put a finger on where the smell was coming from. For a time, many people just tried to ignore it, figuring that it would eventually go away. Yet, that didn’t happen.
Nobody wanted to point fingers either, so the issue just kept getting worse and worse. Finally, everyone came to the conclusion that it was the seemingly abandoned house. Now, they decided they could do something about it.
The Neighbors Were Perplexed
Although everyone assumed that the house had been abandoned, surprisingly, people were seen coming and going from the home. People couldn’t believe anyone would even go near the foul-smelling house, let alone going inside of it.
What was in the house that anyone would dare even go near it? Incredibly, the smell actually went away for a while, and the neighbors went about their regular business.
However, just when they thought the worse was over, it was really just starting.
The Smell Came Back
Just when everyone thought that their worries were over, the smell came back in full force! The neighbors even had a meeting to discuss the issue among themselves. At this point, everyone came to the conclusion that the smell was coming from the suspected house.
However, they knew that they couldn’t intrude by themselves, so they decided it was time to call the police. They told the officers that the smell was beginning to concern them, and the officers had an idea what it might be.
Investigating The House
After receiving the call, the police did their duty and decided to investigate the house. They brought along some of the neighbors to help guide them around the property. Little did they know what they would be greeted with.
The police didn’t know what they were up against, so they made the necessary preparations. In case anything went awry, they brought in a team of specialists including a medical examiner, and a wildlife expert, among others.
Members Of The Wildlife Committee
Soary Randrianjafizanaka was one of the members of the wildlife committee. Her department was one of the expert committees called upon by the police to help investigate the house.
The department is usually called for instances regarding foul smells that are reported. Randrianjafizanaka is the head of the agency, and when she heard about the house she went herself to investigate. Her own home was also in the area, so she was curious.
Although she had an idea of what they might find, she couldn’t have been more wrong.
The City Of Toliara
The exact location of the house was located in the city of Toliara, a place on the southwest coast of Madagascar. The town is regarded as being incredibly beautiful as well as peaceful, where the residents co-exist without any real troubles.
Because of the city’s reputation, the police had a hard time believing that the situation was a result of foul play. So, they called on Randrianjafizanaka just in case the smell might be animal related.
The Agency Has Seen Their Fair Share
The Environmental Agency has been established for a very long time, so it’s seen more than its fair share of insane incidents involving animals. They’ve dealt with animals of all different kinds ranging from fearful kittens to fierce predators.
There’s little that they haven’t come face-to-face with. Because of this, they’re always the police’s first call if they think that an animal is involved in an investigation. Still, at this point, the police had no idea what they were going up against.
Arriving At The House
Upon arriving at the home, they realized that the pungent smell was something that they couldn’t put their finger on. Randrianjafizanaka was beside herself as to what it could be, so she prepared herself to enter.
Randrianjafizanaka had been in a lot of different situations, but this one stood out. Neither she or her team had ever smelled anything quite like what was coming out of the house.
Now, they were completely uncertain of what they would witness once inside.
The House Appeared To Be Ordinary
Other than the atrocious stench that was coming from the inside, the house looked to be relatively normal on the outside. It was large, and from the outside, you’d never know that it was harboring a dark secret on the inside.
However, it was so quiet inside that you could hear a pin drop. Everyone was wondering why such a good looking house would be abandoned. They checked to see if maybe the house was for sale, but it wasn’t.
Entering Into The Unknown
When the police and experts entered the house, the smell was so strong that many of them even became lightheaded. They were completely engulfed in the scent and had no choice but to keep moving deeper into the house.
Still, they were yet to discover what the source actually was. Everyone on the team was trying to figure out what it could be. Randrianjafizanaka thought she might know and suggested that it could be animal waste.
But was she right?
Was It Humans Or Animals?
At this point, Randrianjafizanaka was almost positive that the smell had to be animal related. Only animals trapped inside somewhere could create such a stench. However, she wasn’t able to completely rule out that there may be people in the house.
Yet, by the looks of the interior of the house, she figured that nobody could be living there in such conditions. There had been plenty of questions about the house, and she was about to get answers.
They Heard A Noise
As they made their way through the house, everyone stopped in their tracks when they heard a noise. Although the sound was not very loud, it was loud enough that everyone heard it. Everyone was on their guard now, almost sure that they weren’t alone.
As it turns out, there were other people on the property. Both parties were in complete shock. This only made the police and experts more confused than they originally were.
They Were Digging Holes
When the team came face-to-face with the other people, they had shovels in their hands. Not only that, but they were digging holes as well. They appeared to be digging the holes as fast as they could and were surrounded by objects as well.
The team didn’t know what to make of it. Everything that they were expecting to find had just gone out of the window. Not only was the house not abandoned, but there were people there digging holes.
They Looked Guilty
When the police approached and asked what they were doing, unsurprisingly, they began acting strange. Now, everyone knew that something was definitely off about the whole situation.
The diggers looked like they were trying to hide something, a look the cops could see right through. As soon as the police moved closer, they dropped their shovels as if they had been caught. Yet, the team still didn’t quite understand what they would be guilty for, yet.
They Arrested The Suspects
As if they knew they were in trouble, the diggers immediately put their hands up in the air. There was no point in running, so their only option was cooperating. The police then assumed that they did something bad and followed protocol.
After they had arrested the suspects, the police were able to go back inside to see what the people had been hiding. So, the authorities headed back into the trashed interior of the house and braved the smell once again.
The Floor Was Moving
Upon entering the rooms, it was clear that the interior of the house had been completely destroyed. Everything was falling apart, there was no light, and the ceilings and windows were covered in cobwebs.
They were still looking around to find the source of the foul stench when they discovered something unbelievable. The floor was moving in certain areas of the house. At first, they were startled until they finally realized what they were looking at.
But what was it?
There Were Tortoises Everywhere
Almost the entire floor was covered in tortoises that were packed in like sardines. There were so many that it looked like they made up the entire floor. The team was speechless as they stood in disbelief.
However, Randrianjafizanaka realized that these were no ordinary tortoises and had no clue where they had all come from. It was hard to look through the rest of the house because there were so many of them scattered everywhere.
They Desperately Needed Help
Randrianjafizanaka immediately knew what she needed to do. She needed to get these tortoises out of the house as soon as possible and relocate them to a safe and suitable place. These animals had been horrendously treated, and it was more than likely that many of them were on the brink of death.
It was going to be a lot of work and take a lot of time, but every second the tortoises remained in the house they were in danger.
They Are A Rare Species
Randrianjafizanaka knew there was something special about these tortoises, and she was right. The tortoises are rare and are known as radiated tortoises. They are rarely spotted in the wild and only a limited number of the species call Madagascar home.
They are known for their docile nature, as well as the unique markings on their shell. It started to make sense to Randrianjafizanaka and the rest of the team why the people they arrested had all these animals.
They Are Often Poached
Because of their rarity, these creatures are often poached by criminals. Some people even eat them as a delicacy! On the less extreme side of things, people own them as pets. However, keeping these rare tortoises is against the law, but clearly, that isn’t stopping anybody.
There are a lot of underground operations that involve stealing the tortoises and illegally selling them. At this point, the species is almost extinct because of how they are treated. This instance was especially heinous.
They Are Truly Endangered
At one point, this species of tortoises were thriving. However, in recent years, their numbers have dropped drastically. In the 1990s, it was estimated that their population was around 12 million, still a relatively low number.
However, by 2010, their numbers had dropped to below 6 million. Now, there are only an estimated 3 million. Although the team knew that there were countless tortoises in the house they couldn’t tell how many. In total, there were over 9,000 of them crammed in that small space.
A Silver Lining
Although the tortoises had been living in appalling conditions and had been horribly mistreated, they were happy that they were able to recover so many. Because many of them were sickly, a lot of care was taken in transporting them to a safe place.
Because they had found so many, the team was hopeful that they might be able to help bring their population numbers up. Unfortunately, not everything was a good as it seemed with the animals.
The Bad News
Even though those helping with the tortoises were happy that they found them, they also learned the hard truth. Unfortunately, it was discovered that many of the Tortoises wouldn’t survive to the next week because many of them were severely ill.
Most of them were very dehydrated and although the vets did all they could do, they couldn’t save them all. Even working around the clock, it was almost impossible to work with over 9,000 tortoises.
The Neighbors Couldn’t Believe It
The people who had called the police about the smell were in disbelief by what was found inside. Not only were they surprised that there was criminal activity occurring, but that there were 9,000 endangered tortoises inside.
It’s likely, if they had never called about the issue, the culprits would have got away with their crime. Of course, the story went viral with many activists raising awareness about all kinds of animals that are mistreated as the tortoises were.
Animal Cruelty Is Not Rare
Although many people have been caught, arrested, and charged for animal cruelty, it still continues to happen every day. People become so controlled by greed and money that they forget animals are living beings just like us, and deserve to be treated with respect.
Unfortunately, the pet industry isn’t always better, with many people calling for reform. Many people boycott the industry entirely because they think the animals aren’t being treated as they should be, even if they are legal animals.
What To Do With The Tortoises
All in all, around 8,000 of the tortoises survived the near-death experience. Now, the question is what to do with them. The team wasn’t sure if they were ready to be released back into the wild, but they were also sure that no one facility could look after all 8,000 of them.
After all, they had been through the worst, so now, everyone just wanted them to be comfortable and happy. It was the least they could do for them.
A Safe Place
As it turns out, the tortoises couldn’t be released back into the wild. This is so because they have spent much of their lives in that house. So, simply releasing them back into the wild would put them at risk of dying, or being captured by poachers once again.
Instead, they will be looked after closely by teams of experts who will ensure that they are safe and comfortable. Now, the tortoises can finally relax.
Plans For The Tortoises
Today, the tortoises have never had a better life. They get plenty of attention, food, water, and have a dedicated team that is beyond excited to work with them. At the moment, the first thing that the researchers are focusing on is how to get their population numbers back up.
They have 8,000 tortoises to work with, so things are beginning to look up, not just for this group of tortoises, but the overall species.
The Criminals Punishment
Not only are the people who illegally hoarded these poor turtles criminals, but they’re animal abusers as well. Considering the extent of their crime, many people wanted to see them receive the justice they thought the criminals deserve.
In court, they were judged harshly and received long prison sentences for their crimes. This also helped send a message to anyone else who might be involved in such activities. Now, the criminals will know what it’s like to be held against their will in a small space.