A villager in India was alarmed at the loud and panicked roars echoing up from a 60-foot well near his home and was shocked when he looked inside only to discover a drowning leopard at the bottom fighting for its life.
The resident of Pimpalgaon Siddhanath village in the Junnar division of Maharashtra immediately contacted the Forest Department, which sent out a call to the Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Center operated by Wildlife SOS, according to The Indian Express and press statements.
“The leopard was in a state of panic and had to be rescued immediately,” Dr. Ajay Deshmukh, senior veterinarian of the rescue center, said in a statement.
The rescuers first built a small platform made of long sticks tied together and suspended it just above the water line to give the leopard a refuge outside the water.
With a crowd of villagers watching and some helping, the rescue team offered the leopard a way out:
The leopard growled at its lifeline, looked at it and hesitated before finally resigning itself to the fact it was the only way out. The leopard leaped into the trapping cage and, with the help of local villagers, was pulled up out of the well in what was a three-hour rescue mission.
“The entire exercise had to be quickly executed with painstaking care,” Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder of Wildlife SOS, said in a statement.
Deshmukh identified the leopard as a 3-year-old female.
“After conducting a thorough physical examination we concluded that it was healthy and fit for release,” Satyanarayan said.
Leopards are often spotted in this area with several sugarcane fields providing cover in light of their disappearing natural habitat. With it comes the danger of the animals falling into wells.
“Due to lack of proper net covers, a large number of wells in rural Maharashtra villages remain exposed thereby increasing the risk of wild animals getting trapped in them,” Ramesh Kharmale of the Forest Department said in a statement. “The Forest Department works closely with Wildlife SOS in carrying out rescue operations such as this one.”
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