Pregnant leopard rescued from 40-ft-deep well in village in Maharashtra, dies of injuries

Mumbai city news: Around 1,500 animals, including leopards, jackals, civets, jungle cats, wolves and hyenas, have reportedly died after accidentally falling into open wells across the state over the last decade.
The leopard tries to hold on to the pipe while being rescued.(Wildlife SOS)
The leopard tries to hold on to the pipe while being rescued.(Wildlife SOS)
Updated on May 26, 2017 10:40 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | By

Mumbai: A five-year-old female pregnant leopard was rescued after she fell into a well near Borwadi village, on the outskirts of Junnar district on Wednesday evening.

However, despite all efforts, the animal died of internal bleeding and stress.

The leopard trying to keep afloat during the rescue. (HT)
The leopard trying to keep afloat during the rescue. (HT)

Open wells in villages near forests are a hazard to wildlife. Around 1,500 animals, including leopards, jackals, civets, jungle cats, wolves and hyenas, have reportedly died after accidentally falling into open wells across the state over the last decade.

Forest officers said that the well was located on a private property bordering a sugarcane field. “We dispatched a team of officers to assess the situation. It is clear that the leopard was hiding in the sugarcane field and was looking for food. She was pregnant,” said Sachin Ragatwan, range forest officer of the forest division.

The trap cage used to rescue the animal. (Wildlife SOS)
The trap cage used to rescue the animal. (Wildlife SOS)

A three member rescue team led by Wildlife SOS senior veterinarian Dr Ajay Deshmukh from the Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre and forest department officials rushed to the location soon after the distress call. The team tried to rescue the animal using a motor pump pipe and a trap cage.

“The motor pump pipe was lowered into the well to help the leopard stay afloat and while a trap cage was lowered so that she could safely climb into it,” said Deshmukh adding, “We managed to rescue her from the situation. However, we did not expect what happened next.”

A veterinary examination conducted by the team revealed that the leopard was pregnant but was under severe trauma due to the incident. “The leopard had injured herself while trying to stay afloat, which led to extensive internal bleeding. Despite our best efforts, she passed away,” said Deshmukh.

Why so many cases?

Buffer areas around forests, which mark the transition between forest areas and human habitation, are dotted with uncovered wells. Animals competing over the decreasing prey base, territory and water sources, are forced to venture out into human settlements, which puts them at risk of falling into uncovered wells.

“Several instances of leopards falling into wells have been reported over the last few years in Maharashtra and several others in states like Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Assam. Such cases have been increasing in the recent years and the main reason behind this appears to be the lack of proper covers and fencing around these wells,” said Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder, Wildlife SOS.

Some cases of leopards falling into wells

•August 4, 2016 – A seven-year-old leopard was rescued from 60-foot deep well at Pimpalgaon Siddhanath village located in Junnar division. Locals heard loud, panicking noises from the well and informed forest officers that rescued the big cat.

•March 10, 2016 – Forest officers and local NGOs rescued five-year old female leopard from a 30-foot-deep well at Savidhane village, Junnar. The leopard fell when she saw her reflection in the water. In a five hour long rescue operation, forest officials used a trap cage to pull the leopard out.

•October 28, 2015 - A two-and-a-half-year-old female leopard was rescued in a three-and-a-half hour operation from within a 50-feet deep well in Parner Taluka, Ahmednagar district. The leopard had fallen into two separate wells while being rescued by forest officers.


    Badri Chatterjee is an environment correspondent at Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He writes about environment issues - air, water and noise pollution, climate change - weather, wildlife - forests, marine and mangrove conservation

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