When a wild predator fell down a 60ft well in Junnar, India, rescuers were called upon to lend a helping hand to free the animal. But it seemed this would not be so simple, as the animal was not too keen on their method of choice.
In the sugarcane fields found in Maharashtra villages, there are gigantic open wells. These wells have no cover or net, so it is easy for objects (or living creatures) to fall inside.
Leopards are often spotted in the sugarcane fields of this region, too, since their natural habitat is slowly disappearing.
It was early one morning when a Pimpalgaon Siddhanath village resident in Junnar heard loud, screeching roars echoing near his home. When the man went out to investigate, he was shocked to find that a leopard had fallen into one of the 60-foot-deep open wells.
The man could see that the animal was struggling to stay afloat and would surely drown unless help was offered. He ran back to his home and immediately called the Maharashtra Forest Department, who then notified the Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Center, an organization operated by the wildlife conservation group Wildlife SOS.
“The leopard was in a state of panic and had to be rescued immediately,” Dr. Ajay Deshmukh, senior veterinarian at the center, told the Indian Express.
Deshmukh along with three staff from the center and six officials from the Forest Department acted quickly by tying long sticks together to form a wooden platform, which was then lowered into the well so the leopard could at least get itself out of the water.
Then came the more challenging task of lowering a metal trapping cage down into the well. Due to the weight of the cage, the men had to lower it down slowly.
When the cage got close, though, the animal felt threatened and let out a roar, and in doing so, the cat lost its balance and fell back into the water. Then the leopard managed to get back up on the wooden sticks once again.
When the men lowered the cage closer to the animal, this time it went inside and was lifted back up to safety. The entire rescue took about three hours.
The leopard was identified as a 3-year-old female. “After conducting a thorough physical examination, we concluded that she was healthy and fit for release,” Deshmukh said.
“It’s striking to see so many people working together to save a trapped leopard,” Wildlife SOS Executive Director Nikki Sharp said. “We often hear stories of these animals being poached for their skins, poisoned, even set on fire. So it’s deeply heartening to see a community pulling together to help a predator.
“We’ve been working very hard in this area to help educate people about wildlife. We hope this is a sign that the awareness program is paying off.”
Due to the lack of proper nets to cover the wells, animals are still at risk of falling in, however. Until this changes, rescue teams like this one will surely be called upon again.
Watch the rescue here:
Photo Credit: YouTube Screenshot | Wildlife SOS.