Group of lions in Sudan

Save Starving Animals in Sudan

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FOUR PAWS Mission to Rescue Animals in Sudan

After the successful mission in 2022, we are coming back to Sudan for an emergency rescue to save over 30 animals.

The ongoing humanitarian crisis has led to 5.5 Million people fleeing the country only this year. Unfortunately, the situation on ground is dire and it is getting worse – especially for the animals left behind.

FOUR PAWS was asked to evacuate more than 30 animals from Sudan Animal Rescue center in Al Bageir due to our extensive experience in rescuing animals in war and conflict zones. It is time to act now as the animals are at a high risk of death. Left behind in a conflict zone and in danger to be attacked by shootings, more than 15 lions and other animals are starving and without any medical care.

It is a complex rescue mission, but our experienced team will bring all animals to a safe place.

Follow the timeline for updates on the emergency mission!

#SaveSudanLions

Journey to a Safe Zone

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Defying the odds – finally safe!

Although the great loss of lion Karim still lingered and would continue to do so for a while, our dedicated team of course never lost sight of the task at hand: making sure the rescued animals from Sudan would find their way to a species-appropriate forever home in a safe place. 
 Thankfully, we can now report the great news: the animals found temporary refuge at a species-appropriate and safe place! Due to geopolitical and diplomatic reasons, we cannot disclose the exact location where they have been transferred to, but we can assure you they are in good hands and well taken care of. The hyenas, the serval, and some animals who are in critical condition will stay at this location to receive special attention and medical care and to be spared the stress and exhaustion of yet another transfer, whereas we are hoping that eleven lions can soon continue their journey and move to our LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa!  
 
While all the animals now have a chance to finally rest and recuperate from the traumatic ordeal of their past, colleagues are working around the clock to receive the necessary papers, organise the transfer, and prepare for their eventual arrival in LIONSROCK. We are still waiting for the necessary permits and are, once again, facing severe bureaucratic challenges, but are hoping that we can announce the final good news soon! 

Lion Karim in Sudan

We lost Karim

The return trip to Sudan has been packed with emotional ups and downs, marked by triumphs and overshadowed by new challenges. Yet, the most heart-wrenching chapter of this mission was still awaiting us. After doing the sheer unthinkable and making it out of Sudan with all the animals on board, for the first time in days the team was finally able to catch a breath. Everything seemed to come to a happy end.

And then – our spirits were crushed by devastating news: Lion Karim tragically passed away. We have been rewriting this passage countless times, thinking of ways to tell a story that should never have to be told. No number of words can truly capture the depth of emotions experienced during those crucial moments. Karim's condition was fragile, his internal organs bearing the scars of prolonged starvation. The ordeals he had had to face for the past months in a war-torn country unfortunately caught up with him, and his body was too weak to pull through. His departure touched all of us deeply, and we feel for the team on-site who did everything in their power. Unfortunately, there was nothing that could have been done to avoid this tragedy...

Dr Amir Khalil in Sudan preparing for the departure

Flight cancelled!

This was the pivotal day: all of us had been looking forward to the moment when the resilient animals, who had already gone through so much, were set to embark on their journey to safety, leaving Sudan behind. All seemed to go smoothly; the trucks arrived at the airport punctually, and our precious cargo of animals seemed to be in good spirits. Unfortunately, this was when our team received the shocking news: Despite already waiting at the airport for their confirmed flight, in a last-minute decision by the authorities, the flight was suspended without further information. 

Once again, Dr Amir Khalil was forced to act on the spot, get in contact with the rest of the team that had already left the country, take all necessary steps to solve this unexpected situation and find a swift solution!
 In the face of this unexpected setback, pressing questions needed to be dealt with: Where would the rescued animals stay now, stranded in the country? How could we put together a new plan to ensure their safe departure at a later date? All while keeping the dedicated team safe as well? In the thick of the uncertainty, a glimmer of hope appeared as army generals arrived at the airport, extending a helping hand to navigate this dire situation. Countless discussions and negotiations with officials ensued, culminating in a an eagerly awaited game changer: the flight was reinstated, and the remaining rescue team was granted permission to fly out with their cherished animal companions.

Another morning – another challenge!

Every day holds a new challenge for Dr Amir Khalil who stayed behind to take care of the rescued animals until they could safely leave Sudan. Especially lion Karim caused our vet to have great concerns. The big cat seemed very apathic during the morning check-in and so Dr Khalil decided to monitor Karim intensively, hoping the leader of the lion pride would make it and pull through after all. Fortunately, as the day moved on no more bad news had to be dealt with – the transport to the airport we arranged the days before was able to leave as planned.

Obstacles everywhere – but giving up was never an option!

After a seemingly endless mission during which our team managed to rescue several wild animals from a war zone in the country, we were all hoping for a successful end approaching. However, not everything always works out as planned: as our colleagues’ departure from Sudan was just hours away, they were informed that the cargo airplane would not be able to carry all of them. In a decisive moment, our vet Dr Amir Khalil, the orchestrator of this daring operation, quickly announced to stay behind, prioritising the safety of the animals. Amidst the urgency, Dr Khalil's dedication was put to the test. The morning brought a scare as lion Karim appeared apathetic, but a simple remedy of an extra ration of cold water revived him. As the rest of the team was preparing to leave the country, we were all crossing our fingers that things would go smoother moving on – but of course, more surprises were waiting…

Rescued sand cat in Sudan

Our darkest day in Sudan!

Picture this: in the heart of a small village located in the middle of the African country, amidst the assembly of transport crates for the evacuation flight, the team found themselves in the midst of a spectacle that left the residents wide-eyed. For the first time, a lion graced their hometown, drawing the community together to witness the extraordinary event. Amongst the commotion, this unforeseen addition added an extra layer of excitement to an already bustling day. Undeterred by the unexpected circumstances, our group of specialists remained determined that nothing could go wrong. Sadly, they would be mistaken: the sand cat, tragically, passed away. It was as if the whole town held its breath for a moment, shattered by this disturbance of what had been such tumultuous yet successful past days. In moments like these, the harsh reality sets in – but there is just no time to dwell on grief. The lives of countless animals hinged on the team’s ability to push forward, to carry the weight of their loss, and to focus on the urgent task at hand – evacuating the rescued animals and ensuring their safety. As the day that had started so loud and optimistic neared a quiet end. Grief and sadness were etched on the faces of each team member. But they needed to continue, and they did...to save the remaining animals.

Challenges and Pit Stops!

After successfully reuniting the animals from Dinder Park and Wad Madani, Um Barona National Park, their journey faced yet another challenge: safe transport out of war-torn Sudan. To make this happen, Dr Amir Khalil and his team needed to head back to Port Sudan, from where international transport could be arranged. Unfortunately, despite meticulous planning, transportation delays tested our patience once again. Given the fact that the drive to Port Sudan meant another six hours in the scorching heat, our rescue team made the best out of this situation by making a pit stop in Sinkat and splitting the journey into two legs. Situated 900 meters above sea level, temperatures in Sinkat are about 5 degrees Celsius cooler than in Port Sudan – which came as a relief to the animals, worn out from the long trip and prior weeks without proper access to food and water. Our colleagues on-site were kindly invited to spend the night in a room at the local police station as there was no other accommodation available, hoping to continue the journey with their precious cargo the next day...

Rescued lioness in Sudan on her way to a safe place

The long road to safety

Update: Following the successful evacuation of all rescued animals, facilitated with the support of Sudan Animal Rescue, our team safely reunited the animals in Kassala. However, there was no time to catch a breath  because the mission was far from over yet! The conflict persisted and was relentlessly encroaching upon the Sudanese capital, pushing us to swiftly move the animals. The only permanent solution to ensure the wild animals safety was clear to us all: getting every single one of them out of the country, as fast as possible. Our dedicated team worked around the clock, ensuring the well-being of every animal and organising their transfer to secure havens outside Sudan. Thankfully, all animals appeared to be stable, sparing us the heart-wrenching task of reporting any casualties for now. The transport crates damaged in the hustle and bustle of the days prior were urgently repaired as well, thanks to the relentless efforts of the team! Finally, the animals could be loaded onto trucks bound for Port Sudan, marking a significant step towards a new chapter in their lives. But there was no time to rest just yet. The unpredictable situation in Sudan adds complexity, making logistical plans challenging. We hope everything will work just fine in the next few days.

Rescued lion in a transport crate

Deep within the conflict zone

The time had arrived for Dr Amir Khalil and his team to venture deep into the conflict zone to rescue the remaining animals stranded amidst the warring soldiers. We orchestrated transport for them to a meeting point in Gadaref, which, however, was still a five-hour drive away from their current location in Kassala. As our rescue team set out, they received information that skirmishes had erupted nearby, necessitating a swift passage for our safety. Shortly after, they learned that the road ahead would be closed within ten minutes  the longest ten minutes of their lives. Fortunately, they were granted permission to proceed. In the dusky light, our experienced staff reached Gadaref and could scarcely believe their eyes: 6 lions, 3 hyenas, and 2 small cats eagerly awaited their arrival. The plan had succeeded! Yet, there was no time for celebration, as they now found themselves in the heart of the conflict zone. Thanks to meticulous preparations, they had a special permit allowing them to drive during the curfew. This not only meant they could continue immediately but also took advantage of the sparse nighttime traffic and cooler temperatures, easing the journey for the animals who had already endured so much. A quick but careful examination revealed they were tired but holding up well. Embarking on the return journey, they had to navigate almost thirty checkpoints on their way to Kassala. The rescue team arrived at 4:30 in the morning and could reunite the animals! The first light of dawn greeted our colleagues on-site with the beautiful promise that the animals were safe – at least for now...

Rescued hyena in a transport crate

Preparing for an emergency animal evacuation

Unfortunately, the situation in the capital Khartoum has worsened and conflicts have escalated since our last visit. Navigating military checkpoints, guarded by armed personnel, with tensions so palpable you can almost taste the conflict – it all feels like an unsettling déjà vu. After a gruelling 24-hour journey, 12 of which were spent on a bus navigating bumpy roads, we finally reached Kassala, where some of the animals were relocated. The initial assessment of the animals is dire: the lions bear open wounds and lesions that require immediate attention. Particularly, lions Karim and Oscar are in critical condition, visibly emaciated and feeble. Thankfully, they responded positively to the feeding, providing a glimmer of hope. However, only a portion of the animals has reached Kassala; many still remain within the conflict zone. With no one else willing to go there, our only option is to undertake the mission ourselves. Extracting them from this perilous situation poses a significant challenge, but Dr Amir Khalil and his team are diligently working to coordinate the necessary logistics.

Injured lion in Sudan

Worrying developments: Our team is back in Sudan!

Nearly 50 wild animals stuck right within the conflict zone in Khartoum, without access to food, water, or veterinary care, in a war-torn country. These were the circumstances under which we headed out to Sudan end of last year. We managed to evacuate the animals to a safe place – at least that is what we thought back then. However, despite our expertise, we could not predict how quickly the circumstances would change.
Unfortunately, the war has caught up, and the Um Barona National Park in Wad Madani is not a safe haven any longer. This means that the animals will once again have to flee from human conflict – and they cannot do that without our help.

Our experienced rescue team travelled back to Sudan and is now preparing everything for an emergency evacuation – this time out of the country, to one of our sanctuaries. The tides of war are omnipresent, and it has become clear that the current situation is unpredictable and could escalate rapidly. That is why we, together with all responsible parties involved, agreed on taking the animals out of Sudan. Of course, every step must be carefully planned in advance to ensure the safety of our staff and the wild animals.

Lion in transport cage in Sudan

We have accomplished the extraordinary!

Our crew faced curfews, blackouts, flooded streets, and had to deal with a challenging lack of infrastructure, limited access to food and clean water, but they always had one goal in mind: to evacuate all animals and bring them to a safe place within the country! Knowing that this was one of our biggest and most dangerous rescue missions to date, we are happy to breathe a sigh of relief today as our experts from the Rapid Response team returned home safely! We welcomed them back home, congratulating them on their fantastic success – and mourning the loss of animals that could not be saved.
On the two rescue days in Khartoum, our team worked under high pressure to provide immediate veterinary care and medication and to get all the animals into the transport boxes and load them on the trucks. This is already very strenuous during normal rescues, but with a small team, the sounds of war always in the background, heat, humid air, and the time pressure due to the curfew, it was a real tour de force.

As soon as the animals were loaded, they made their way to a safe zone in Wad Madani, Um Barona National Park, as a temporary station until sustainable long-term solutions have been found. FOUR PAWS and the Wildlife authorities in Sudan will work on this together. With your support and in close cooperation with our local stakeholders we were able to rescue nearly 50 animals! 

Thank you for helping us to make this happen – we are in awe of our amazing global community and supporters! 

Rescued from the brink of death – nearly 50 animals arrived at Um Barona Park! 

After an incredibly difficult journey, we have great news to share with all of you who have been following FOUR PAWS' most dangerous mission to date: Dr Amir Khalil and his team, together with almost 50 rescued animals, arrived safely at Um Barona National Park. Looking at the faces of our teammates, we can see the incredible hardships and challenges they had to overcome during the last days. Unfortunately, some of our animal passengers are in way worse shape. One of the hyenas is suffering from a massive open flesh wound on the lower back. Also, the lioness with a hybroma on both her elbows will need intensive care, as well as the three-legged hyena. Every single one of the animals is weakened, thin, and exhausted from the struggle of trying to stay alive for the past weeks and months.  Having arrived at our final destination, the Sudanese Wildlife authorities will now continue the treatment. Of course, we have made the proper arrangements so that they will be in the best hands after our departure. FOUR PAWS is supporting the Um Barona National Park with food supplies for one month for all the animals, medications as well as with urgently needed improvements that need to be made at the park. Finally, we will be working together with the authorities to find a long-term solution for all the saved animals. For now, they need to recover from their injuries and regain their strength. Please continue your fantastic support and keep donating for their recovery and new beginnings for the rescued animals.

A dangerous drive to safety! 

In most rescues, the relief is great as soon as the animals are loaded and on their way. This one, however, is different. Despite all the achievements up to this point, the animals and the team were far from safe! Tired of the extremely challenging task of caring for and loading the animals, the convoy set off on the long and dangerous journey to safety through a lawless no-man's land. Dr Amir Khalil made the decision to drive ahead of the convoy to be able to cross this dangerous zone as darkness descended. Unfortunately, this time, the team did not make it out completely unscathed – one of the trucks was stopped by bandits who took the driver’s money! This situation could have played out differently and we are grateful that everyone made it out. Besides the external dangers, the FOUR PAWS crew was, of course, constantly concerned about their precious cargo. For animals that have been suffering from hunger for months and are at the end of their tether, such transport is very strenuous. The team checked on the animals at every opportunity, providing them with everything they had during this treacherous journey. Although an end to this perilous mission was in sight, the danger was not yet over.  Please stay tuned as we will update soon about the last stages of our journey – and donate if you can!

Lion in a transport crate

Getting nearly 50 wild animals out of war-torn Khartoum

After the emotional events the day before, our vet and mission leader Dr Amir Khalil returned to Sudan Animal Rescue with his team to place the remaining wild animals safely into transport boxes and load them all onto trucks – a colossal logistical undertaking that required full commitment from everyone present. Our plan to prepare 15 lions and five hyenas for the journey to a temporary safe zone in Wad Madani, Um Barona National Park, worked out well. Additionally, a serval, a sand cat, and a common genet were carefully positioned in one of the trucks. As our rescue team proceeded with the loading and getting ready for departure, they found more animals, which they were not informed about prior. All of a sudden there were two eagles, a stork, gazelles as well as several grey crowned cranes and peafowls that we spontaneously decided to take with us and give them a second chance in life.
In total, our FOUR PAWS crew managed to rescue almost 50 wild animals that day!
 

No animal was left behind in Khartoum, although we were not sure if all of them would make it and pull through. Some of the animals were in pretty bad shape and very weak as we finally left Sudan Animal Rescue. As you can probably imagine, danger was far from over. Having to drive through the volatile conflict zone with trucks loaded with that many animals was risky, to say the least.

Lion is transported from Sudan Animal Rescue

Giving up was never an option for us

Throughout the whole day, our team was working under pressure and time flew by very quickly. Having only the lions in their transport boxes at that time and night descending rapidly, the FOUR PAWS crew needed to evacuate immediately due to danger in the conflict area. Right then and there, it was clear they had to come back the next day to finish the uploading of the wild animals, like hyenas and wild cats, because they didn’t want to leave any of them behind.
Stay tuned and find out how ️the second rescue day unfolded.

FOUR PAWS team member is working in the dark in Sudan

Heart-wrenching moments during a high-risk rescue mission

Unfortunately, despite our teams’ best efforts and trying everything possible to save lion Leo, it was simply too late for him.
Our colleagues on-site spent the afternoon struggling with separating a big lion group of eight, who were sharing an enclosure to be able to sedate them and put the big cats into transport crates. It was not the easiest task to handle, even for two very experienced vets like Dr Frank Goeritz from the IZW Leibniz and Dr Amir Khalil. Eventually, they successfully managed the situation with persistence and patience.

However, when the sun set and everything around the team was pitch-black in Sudan’s capital, a staff member who closely monitored Leo the whole day informed the others that the lion sadly passed away. We lost a majestic creature. Tragically, he is not the only one. Several other animals died before our arrival due to disease, thirst, and hunger or having to resort to eating each other. Every additional day would have probably cost more lives.


Nevertheless, we want to thank the remaining Sudanese caretakers at Sudan Animal Rescue, who gave their best under tremendously tough circumstances to keep as many animals alive as possible in the past weeks and months until our team was able to travel to Khartoum. This was hard and losing so many animals affected us all deeply. We all wanted to finish this story with a Hollywood ending, in which we rescue all the animals at the very last second. But life is not a movie unfortunately and at this point, we were all grieving.

Lion Leo urgently needs to be treated in Sudan

Fighting for Leo, the lion

Together with Dr Frank Goeritz from IZW Leibniz, Dr Amir Khalil and his team tirelessly worked all day after their arrival at Sudan Animal Rescue to save all the wild animals, immediately focussing on the weakest. One of them was lion Leo, who was found lying in a dusty pit inside one of the enclosures being non-responsive. The sight of his bony, starved body caught them off guard. Action had to be taken as quickly as possible so Leo got an emergency treatment right away, including an urgent infusion on the spot.

At this point, we all hoped for a miracle – wishing for a small improvement and to get Leo and all the other animals trapped in Khartoum out of there. They all deserve a better life. A bright future. A safer place to live in!

Be on the lookout for upcoming posts, since we will continue consistently updating you on the progress of the most dangerous and difficult mission FOUR PAWS has ever done.

Lions at Sudan Animal Rescue in Khartoum

Arrival at Sudan Animal Rescue in Khartoum

After another very short night our rescue team headed out again to finally reach Khartoum and get to the wild animals in need. A last-minute route change forced us to replan, as the original road had been locked down due to ongoing conflicts. On the alternative route, they had to cross several checkpoints, where all their luggage was carefully examined by armed soldiers. Nerve-wracking moments for Dr Amir Khalil and his team but fortunately they were allowed to pass through and made it to Khartoum safe and sound after more than 24 hours on bumpy roads.

What came next shocked all of us: we had braced ourselves for the expected poor condition of the animals, only to be confronted with a reality ten times worse than our darkest imaginations. The lions especially were in a horrible state and needed veterinary help right away. One of them, Leo, was doing particularly badly: he had collapsed from emaciation, so all our vets had to focus on him immediately. At this point, we had no contact with our team on-site anymore, as they had not a single minute to spare while trying to rescue these animals. All their lives are still hanging by thin threads.

Preparation of the transportation crates in Sudan

Preparing the transport crates & the journey continues

Getting the right materials for the construction of transport crates for these animals in need was another tricky task our team had to figure out on the go. Multiple adjustments were needed to ensure the animals can be transported safely in those.
 Now Dr Amir Khalil and his crew are preparing for the next leg of their journey. It will not be easy since they have to pass countless checkpoints on the way to Khartoum. The situation is tense, and we hope they make it to the animals in time.

Our rescue team finally made it to Sudan!

After restoring communication with Dr Amir Khalil and his team, who travelled to Sudan at the end of last week, it is hard to recognize our teammates' faces in their video messages. Our colleagues are sleep-deprived, have only little access to food, and work under challenging hygienic conditions on the ground. We are concerned about the countless difficulties they are facing. 
In a war-torn country, everything is hard to get: whether it is accommodation, a working internet connection, or a secure passage. Amidst all the hassles, they are motivated and driven to try and bring the suffering animals – e.g. several lions, hyenas, and wild cats – stuck at the Sudan Animal Rescue, located near Khartoum, to a temporary safe zone!

Preparations have started

There is literally no time to waste which makes the situation more than challenging as preparing for a mission in a war zone requires careful and extensive preparation. We are currently working at maximum capacity in close cooperation and joint efforts with local partner and other important stakeholders. Hopefully, we will be able to head off to Sudan as soon as possible.

Lions Kandaka and Mansour

Rapid Response for Animals

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