A male leopard, that had fallen into a 45-feet deep well in a village near Pune, was saved from drowning with the help of a charpoy and then a cage lowered into the well, officials said on Monday.
Inhabitants of Belhe village in Pune district were startled by the panicked roars, echoing from deep within an open well, on Saturday. The leopard was found struggling to stay afloat in water and appeared exhausted from the ordeal.
The worried villagers immediately alerted the Maharashtra Forest Department and wildlife conservation charity, Wildlife SOS. Belhe village falls under Otur Forest Range.
Thanks to the quick thinking of the villagers and forest officers, a charpoy was lowered into the well for the leopard to climb onto it for support until the Wildlife SOS team reached the location. It operates out of the Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre at Junnar, about 40 km from Belhe village, which it runs jointly with the Forest Department.
“The Wildlife SOS team lowered a trap cage into the well to safely extricate the leopard. The big cat promptly jumped into the cage and was immediately, carefully lifted out,” a statement from Wildlife SOS said.
The leopard was then transferred to the Manikdoh Centre for medical observation. On being declared fit by the veterinary team, the leopard was released back into its natural habitat on Monday.
Wildlife SOS Veterinary Officer Dr Nikhil Bangar said: “The leopard was approximately 1.5 years old. We kept the leopard under close observation while it recuperated from this stressful ordeal. Fortunately, it had not sustained any severe injuries and was safely released back into the wild.”
Stating that Wildlife SOS has saved over 50 leopards from open wells, its founder and CEO Kartick Satyanarayan said: “But to solve this problem of open wells and prevent them from claiming more lives, Wildlife SOS has initiated a participatory community project. Filling or sealing the wells is not an option because most of them still serve the local communities as valuable drinking water sources. Therefore, covering them is a workable solution that allows access to water while mitigating the risk of anyone falling in.”
Range Forest Officer, Otur, Vaibhav Kakade said: “We are glad that the leopard was not injured and was able to return to its natural habitat.”