Just weeks after a sambar deer was rescued from a 12 foot deep uncovered well near Junnar, our team at the Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Center received word about a similar incident in Gatwadi village located in Otur.
The victims this time were two leopard cubs had the misfortune of falling into a nearly 15 foot deep. They were trapped for almost ten hours before a local farmer discovered them and reported the incident to the Forest Department. Almost immediately RFO (Otur) Sachin Raghatwan alerted our centre and both teams rushed to the location.
A crowd of 60 people was gathered around the scene so they had to ensure that all safety measures were taken before moving on with the rescue mission. In the meantime, the cubs had managed to clamber onto an elevated ridge to avoid drowning in the water but time was running out for them. We didn’t want to tranquilize the leopards as they were quite young and we didn’t want to risk them falling into the water again. Our team initially lowered a crate and Wildlife SOS veterinarian, Dr. Ajay Deskmukh went down to the ridge to coax the cubs to jump in. However, they were very scared and ran in the opposite direction. Eventually, we had to use pole catchers to carefully extricate them.
The pair was then transferred to a transit facility. Identified as one male and one female, the cubs were estimated to be about five months old. Dr. Ajay carried out a routine veterinary checkup and fortunately they were both unhurt and healthy. However, they were extremely stressed and exhausted from the ordeal so we decided to keep them under observation till dusk.
Otur is a leopard prone area and these wild cats’ frequent villages in the neighborhood in search of easy prey such as poultry and livestock. Having had years of experience in successfully reuniting leopard cubs with their mothers across the state, our team carefully placed the two cubs in a safe box and returned to the area in the hope of reuniting them with the mother. Female leopards are fiercely protective of their young and can retaliate with aggression if they are unable to locate their cubs. Consequently, such incidents give rise to man-leopard conflict situations which exposes both humans and the leopards to danger. Much to their relief, a female leopard soon emerged from the neighboring sugarcane fields and disappeared shortly after, followed closely by her cubs.
It is a matter of great concern for us as the wild animals such as leopards continue to become the unnecessary victims of human callousness. Between 2016 and 2017, the MLRC team has rescued 42 animals from open wells and tanks across various districts in Maharashtra. Without the support and understanding of local communities, it is almost impossible to address this issue. You can help make a difference by signing Wildlife SOS’ on-going petition asking concerned authorities to fence areas around open wells or cover them so that the lives of many innocent animals and people can be saved here: http://bit.ly/2rbr7Kl