Freya Hawkins, Derbyshire UK - Snow Leopard Survival Sanctuary
BANG! The sound of gunshot shook the ground. Terrified, the snow leopard cubs ran and hid behind a rock up in the mountains. They had never heard such a loud noise, and really wanted to nestle into their mother. However, as they dared to peep round the rock their mum was nowhere to be seen. Cautiously, the cubs stepped from behind the rock and made their way down the mountain. Suddenly they stopped. Voices were coming from the bushes. They ran again, but this time to a cave. It had started to snow and they needed shelter. The voices were getting louder. Snuggling together, they saw two men with guns crossing the rocky terrain. When they had gone the snow leopards crept over to the bushes and peered out to look what the men had been doing. They stared, their eyes welling up, both giving a tiny whimper – they realised their mother had been killed. The men were poachers and had probably wanted the fur to sell. Nuzzling into their mother for the last time, they knew they would have to leave her as the poachers would soon return, and would undoubtedly kill them too if they were spotted. Scared, they wandered off up the mountain. Usually their mother had caught food and they would be eating by now. Luckily, after a long time searching, they found the carcass of a bharal. The snow leopards soon got very tired, as they had done a lot of travelling that night.
As the sun started to rise the cubs were huddling together to try and keep warm. The next day would be very hard so they needed their sleep. They dreamt of their mum lying lifeless on the ground waiting for the poachers to come and get her. The cubs were suddenly woken by the sound of screeching brakes. Jumping up they saw people with guns. Thinking they were the poachers they started growling - but the guns seemed different. Two clicks sounded, and immediately the cubs felt very dizzy and found they were drifting off to sleep again. The strange people picked them up very carefully and laid them in the back of the truck. They drove off into the distance - the cubs had no idea what would become of them.
One of the cubs woke up. Amazed by the new environment it nudged its sister and she awoke. They both stood up, legs weak from lying down so long. Sniffing around, they soon realised where they were - an animal sanctuary. The cubs were delighted they weren’t killed like their mother. Meanwhile a person appeared pushing a wheelbarrow with a carcass in it. The snow leopards were still afraid so, as the women opened the gate and bent down to them, they backed away. “It’s alright, I won’t hurt you.” she said soothingly. She held out her hands. They had bits of meat in them. The cubs turned to each other, licking their lips. Slowly they walked towards her, not able to resist the tasty looking meat. The woman’s name was Kate and she was going to raise them like their mother would have done, and then set them free into the wild again when they were able to look after themselves. She put the carcass on the floor and let the cubs tuck in to it. She had brought them some milk too and they lapped it up as they hadn’t managed to get a drink because of what had happened to their mother. Kate beamed with joy and happiness. She was thrilled to be looking after two adorable little snow leopard cubs. When they had finished the carcass and the milk Kate picked them up and took them into the health centre to see if they were alright. The snow leopards knew that they were very lucky and would have a fantastic life in the sanctuary. The place was full of baby snow leopards, all with the same story as the two cubs. They were all being nursed and were going to be set free too. Some of the snow leopards were not able to go back into the wild as they were either injured badly or had been very poorly, but the carers at the sanctuary tried their best to keep them happy and make their home as much as possible like their usual territory. The cubs saw many of their species as they went to the health centre. At the health centre they had a check-up and seemed to be fine but they needed naming. The cubs were both girls. Kate chose the names Sona and Sharvari. Sona means gold, moon light and Sharvari means lady, night. Sona and Sharvari purred at their new names. Kate then took them to the nursing room. Many baby snow leopards were in there playing with toys with their carers. It was used to build up their strength to be able to hunt in the wild. They would spend the afternoon in the nursing room and the rest of the day in their mountain like enclosure. Many rocks and hidey holes were in the enclosure, just like a normal mountain.
Sona and Sharvari knew their life was going to get better and better at the Snow Leopard Survival Sanctuary, with such good people who cared about their safety and their future.
Very Highly Commended: Saarah Yousaf, Leeds, UK - My Story:
Padding softly on the wild undergrowth of the rainforest, Rani suddenly stopped in her tracks. She was quietly blended into her surroundings due to her beautiful stripes and soft fur, the shade which a blazing flame might burn. Inhaling deeply, she sniffed the air. It was humid as always and densely packed with the exotic scents of strange shrubs and the other inhabitants of the forest.
Assuring herself that it was safe, Rani moved on under the wide stretch of canopy above her. She knew she had little time left, the urgency pumping along with her pulse.
Eventually she arrived at the old Indian ruin of a temple. It had been built thousands of years ago, entirely out of stone. What was left of it remained undiscovered as the secret of the rainforest.
Rani slipped through the hole she had found days ago, in preparation for what was coming. Stealthily, she hurried on within the ancient walls until she reached the heart of the temple. The huge dome had survived all these years and now in a small corner, it was to become Rani's birthing nest.
Rani settled down on her side, she knew that raising her cubs would require huge amounts of devotion and care. She would need to teach them how to hunt so that in two years time, they would be able to fend for themselves. Though all tigers had to face the reality that their homes, the rain-forests, are being unmercifully cut down. They are also hunted down by huntsmen for their bones, fur and meat. Indeed it is a cruel world for a tiger but their biggest enemy are the ...humans. Humans are the ones causing all the destruction and if they found the will to stop- then maybe tigers would roam freely in vast numbers once again. Though not all humans are born this way, a small number work alongside the tigers in an attempt to save them. These humans are those who can give a tiger hope. Hope that their world may change.
Rani's two cubs had been welcomed into the world as the first stars began to shine in the indigo streak of a night sky. All she hoped was that they managed to survive the rough life that the wild would thrust at them.
And maybe, just maybe, they would.
Very Highly Commended: Tom Dixon Humphreys, London,UK - The Boar
The thick snow glistened in the starlight, a carpet of pearls. A boar, shaggy with matted fur and scared glistening eyes, ambled softly past without a noise to be heard but the barely audible sound of its breathing, like a bird swooping past.
Not far behind, soft feet padded along, a hound on the trail. The dark clouds gathered again and the boar was brought to a quick amble by the gentle tap of an icy cold flake.
The silence grew darker and more ominous as the forest densened and each crystal white tree encrusted with ice grew closer. The snow was now deepening; with this the blizzard began swirling around the forest, thickening the icy snow.
The boar put its long curved tusks into ploughing through the deepening drifts.
“Old hound’s on to something”, crooned loudly a man dressed in fur from head to toe.
“More likely just a bone”, laughed the other through layer upon layer of coat.
The silence took over again as the hound floundered in the snow. The boar quickened its pace, ambling through impenetrable snow. A gurgling river blocked the path, growing quicker as thawing snow trickled down to meet it. The boar halted. It could not swim. It sat down on an icy clump by the side and gave up to the hound.
Suddenly the hound was through the last snowdrift and looked upon a strange sight: the boar was sitting on a piece of ice which had broken away from the bank and was hurriedly floating down the great gushing gurgling stream. The face of the boar, startled and triumphant, was visible only until the stream carried the snow-covered, hair-matted, startled-eyed, diamond-tusked old boar loftily around a bend in the fast thawing bank. Silence fell; only the gentle gurgling sound of the stream.
Highly Commended: Laura Ryder, Exeter UK
He was so strong with light gold eyes. The wolf had his own pack that followed his every word. His fur was made up of a black colour with light white patches. Near on of the patches was a couple of scars but not big so you would have to know where they are to see them. But his life was not as easy as this. Let me tell you about it. Storm and Sly were his mum and dad. They both were completly different but in the same way they were perfect for each other. They both left their packs to be with each other. Their den was perfect for them and their pups which Storm would give birth to. A few months later their were six puppies runing around,chasing their mums tail and doing most things that they shouldn't do. Sly was a born hunter so most day he brought back good kills but one day there was no elk to be found. Little did these wolves know that it was hunting season and if any elk were lost or alone they would be shot. The elk were clever so they hid from sight. It became a hard time for the wolves because they needed their pups to grow stong because they would need to move to a safe den for winter. The time came where Sly and Storm knew they couldnt wait any longer as the last of the Autum leaves had fallen onto the ground. Their instincts were telling them to move knowe or the pups would not make it through winter. As all good wild animals they followed them and slowly but at a steady pace they moved to their chosen den. About halfway there, Sly's ears picked up something weird. He had heard this sound before. Sly's body became tense and most of his hairs stood up. A loud growl came out of his mouth. Storm had dropped the pup she had been holding and joined in with the growl. All pups looked up at their parents wondering why they were acting like this. Two of them, named Crystal and Ice, backed behind their mum and dad. Soon three hunters came out of the bushes with long shiny things. Know as guns to you and I. The hunters held the guns at the two older wolves. Some of the pups ran up to them and as soon as they were in the line of fire there bodys fell down limp. This just turned Sly on even more. He bent his back legs then leapt up into the sky and landed on top of one of the hunters. Storm stood in front of Crystal and Ice, the last of the pups,. Sly put up a good fight but there was no match when the others pointed the shiny stick at him. Like the pups, his body fell down limp with a deafining boom. Storms anger built up. She said to her pups stay together and run away some where any where but run away from here. The pups understood and started to run. Ice stopped for a bit and watched as his mother jumped on top of the hunters and then watch as her body went limp. Ice felt a tear runing down his cheek. Soon Crystal and Ice found a old tree that had fallen down. Crystal sniffed around for any other animals. There was nothing here. Ice and Crystal went inside the log and sat down. Soon a loud rumbling noise came from Crystal's belly. Ice had sniffed out an old elk so he lead Crystal to it. When they had eaten all that they could, Ice saw the night was nearly apon them. He lifted up his head and saw the full moon shining down on him and his sister. His mouth started to open and for the first time in his life he did a long and loud puppy howl. His sister soon joined in. Once they had completed their howl, Crystal yawned then headed inside the log and soon she was asleep. Ice knew that for the first times in their life they were alone and cold. He sunggled up next to Crystal and puts his head on her side. The next morning, there was an ear picering howl that woke them both up. Ice could smell some wolves out side. There was a black nose sniffing inside the log. A voice shouted don't worry wer' not going to hurt you we were going to ask if you'll like to join our pack and you both can be the leader if you want to. Ice came out followed by Crystal. The wolves bowed low for Ice and Crystal. Crystal nodded a bit but then broke into a run. Ice started to follow her but the others held him back. They said they would go after her and as soon as this was said three wolves ran after her. Now they never found Crystal and when Ice found out he was broken hearted but soon he forgot everything about her. So this is where we will leave Ice with his new pack and when he grows older he will be the leader. Until next time good bye.
Highly Commended : Rajan Mann, Warwickshire, UK - My Story:
A long, throaty roar echoed through the valleys of Kenya. It sounded of pain and loss, the feeling that all lions live under,
are ruled by. The howling lion watched on as those vicious humans grabbed his surviving cub, powerless to stop them. They
had those pointy things and shiny things that made loud sounds. He had to be careful of them. The lion sent a limp paw scratching at
them, but withdrew as soon as they looked at him. Letting out a weak mewl he turned and ran away from his family. He knew that his species
would not survive for long, with the tribes with sticks and shiny things. He must get away, maybe start a new family. BANG - just as he had that thought, the valleys
reverberated with a new sound, the sound of the shiny things. The lion did not get time to wonder what had happened before
his vision blurred ... then nothing.
Highly Commended : Sadia Nowshin, Coventry UK
I limp on my bad leg, away from the dangerous eyes i can feel lurking in the wilderness. My leg stings badly, but i know that if i slow down, i'll have no chance of survivng. Those creatures are lethal, and once they get their eyes on their prey, they won't give up. i hear a snarl far behind me, and speed up. The world around me blurs as i run, the pain in my leg intensifiying. I think of my children, still at home, completly oblivious to the fact that I was minutes away from death. I prefered it that they didn't know; now they didn't have to suffer with me. I hear the padding footsteps of my predator close behind me, and i know that this is it. I turn with malice and aggression in my eyes, holding onto the small hope that I can scare him away. I can't.
I watch, helpless, as the hunter's eyes focus on me. He lifts the gun up, and I see the bullet shoot towards me. I close my eyes, preparing for the jolt as the bullet enters my body, and when it comes, i emit one last sigh, before my life ends.
Highly Commended : Seirain Griffiths, Nottingham UK - THE BEAR TRUTH
John had travelled all the way to America. He’d always wanted to see the Grizzly bears and, after hours of trekking he had finally found one. It was a cub, and it was sleeping, but as he stood looking at it, a massive adult appeared and powered into him. The scene that followed was a confusing blur of sound, pain, and then, black.
He turned over; he was lying in a soft, warm, bed. He opened his eyes and realised he was in a hospital unit. There was a small TV in the corner and the local news was playing.
"And now, the British tourist who was attacked by the Grizzly bear, is still in hospital but out of intensive care, but now to the weather.”
A man came into the room.
“Ah,” he said brightly. “You’re awake.”
“Yes, but what happened?”
“Well, from what they told me, a passing rescue helicopter saw you being attacked by the bear and flew down to help. They tranquilized the mother and are going to put her to sleep. But the cub has been taken to an orphanage.”
It was the next day that he asked if he could see the bear before they killed it.
As he stood looking at it through the bars of the cage, he looked into the deep blue shining eyes and understood her. He realized that she had only been trying to protect her cub and she didn’t know he hadn’t meant any harm. He thought that they shouldn’t kill it, and something had to be done.
Couple of days later, John looked out of his hotel window and, in the distance he saw a great big, brown Grizzly bear and her cub.
Highly Commended : Nathanael Wheatcroft-Brown, Whitby UK - Seven Spring Days
Seven spring days had lapsed and Sierra opened her eyes for the first time. They were as cerulean as the midnight sky and as beautiful as the moonlit ocean. Her white fleece was thick and speckled with black rosettes and her tail was coiled around her body. She looked around, it was early morning and her mother was feeding her. In the corner of the small cavern Sierra’s twin brother Azim was fast asleep, his ears twitched as he sensed his sister’s presence.
It was time for Sierra and Azim to move on from feeding off mother. She had been absent from the cavern since sunrise. Mother returned with a bounty of food, perfect for Sierra and Azim to devour. It was the first time they had ever eaten solid food and they ate it with great pleasure.
Three months transpired and it was time to move home, Sierra took her first steps into the world, her small paws treading the ground beneath her. She was led by mother across the rough terrain, scaling the Asian mountains looking for their perfect home. Azim followed behind, whining inaudibly, he hadn’t eaten in days. After hours of exploring they entered a hollow area, the cubs slumbered and left mother to hunt on her own.
Sierra awoke to the smell of food and surveyed the area; two marmot corpses were arranged near mother who was having a well-earned rest. It was almost midnight, Sierra looked up into the sky, her pure eyes twinkled in the moonlight. She stretched her arms and legs and shuffled towards the marmot, inhaling the delightful smell as she got closer. She munched on the rubbery meal and after she had devoured every last scrap of meat she looked at her mother and brother. They were fast asleep.
Sierra sneaked out of her home, she felt the cool breeze brush against her thick hair and a feeling of refreshment swept over her. She felt free, she felt like she could range the Asian wilderness day and night, exploring every rock and bug that she passed. She could rampage through the thick swards of grass and prowl along the rocky landscape; she could imagine all the excitement and wonder. She looked back into her confined home, her brother was lying on his back with his paws dangling in the air, she would miss his playful cuddles. She looked at her mother, who was smiling delicately, she would miss her love. But the thing Sierra would hate the most would be forgetting about them when she was gone…
Azim whined when he awoke the following morning, he could feel something missing. Mother woke a few moments later and scanned the area, calling for her baby. Mother and Azim chased after Sierra’s scent and after a few hours they retired to their den. They waited two days for Sierra to return, Mother hunted twice a day and brought back measly portions of meat to eat. Azim just lay there, hardly moving, whining all day and night.
One year had passed and Mother and Azim knew Sierra wasn’t coming back. Azim had found a mate and would become independent soon, leaving his Mother all on her own; they both knew that they may never see each other again. Mother cleaned her baby one last time before saying goodbye and watched him disappear into the wilderness.
Ten years on and Azim’s partner had given birth to three beautiful cubs. Their names were Leomaris, Androcles and Sierra. Mother was laid in the den where she had grown so many memories, she was getting old and was sick. As for Sierra, she had given birth to two innocent cubs far away from the home she grew up in; one was called Kefir and the other Azim.
Azim and his partner were outside together, as were Sierra and her partner. They crossed paths for the first time in eleven years; there had never been so much love in the air that night than there had been since they were born. They didn’t forget each other, they remembered. They remembered every moment they shared together, every second of their lives came rushing back into their minds. They knew where they used to live and they even knew how to get there…
Sierra and Azim senior carried Azim and Sierra junior by their scruffs. They journeyed up to the peak of the Asian mountain where Mother lived; they got so close that they could distinguish Mother’s scent. They arrived. Mother was lying on hard terrain and she had an emaciated figure, she must’ve been extremely ill. When she saw her babies her face lit up, she whined softly and limped across to her babies. Sierra senior embraced her mother and whined, as if to say she was sorry. Azim senior presented his mother with her own grandchildren which were pouncing on each other as if they were entwined in a ball of love. Mother mewed silently and fell to the ground, she closed her eyes, she could sleep now.
On that seventh spring day Sierra junior and Azim junior opened their eyes for the first time. They were at home again and lived apart from each other but they could still feel each other, it was as if they were connected in some way. They could also feel something else in their hearts, something that was gone in existence but remained to watch over them…