In an unfortunate incident recently, a female Bengal tiger cub fell into an open well in Hardua village, situated in Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh. The feline had fallen into a 20-feet-deep well, hidden within the thick foliage of the cropland in which it was located.
The distressed tiger cub was rescued by the forest officials of Pench National Park in an operation that lasted four hours. The rescue was conducted with the help of a crane from which an attached trap cage had been lowered into the well to the level of the cub. This was done to ensure that the cub could climb into the cage safely. Once she did, the trap door was closed and the cage was pulled up.
Considering the possibility of her having sustained serious injury, the tiger cub was transferred to the treatment unit of the Van Vihar Bear Rescue Facility (VVBRF) in Bhopal, located inside Van Vihar National Park (VVNP), for treatment. The veterinary team here tranquilised the cub to conduct a thorough diagnosis. When a closer inspection was done, the cub was found to be approximately 7 months old.
The team of veterinarians included Dr. Atul Gupta from VVNP, Dr. Sunil Tumaria from Govt. Veterinary Hospital, Bhopal, Dr. Rajat Kulkarni from Wildlife SOS and Dr. Akhilesh Misra from Pench National Park, who spearheaded the rescue of the cub. Because of falling into the well, the tiger had suffered a rectal prolapse which the team treated and sutured the area. After investigation based on radiographic evidence, the cub was found to have sustained hairline fractures on its hip and its femur bone.
However, this is not the first time Wildlife SOS has encountered a situation where a big cat was rescued from an open well in Madhya Pradesh. In 2017, a 2-year-old male leopard got stranded after it fell into an inconspicuous well – measuring 60 feet deep – in the Goharganj district of Madhya Pradesh. The young leopard was rescued by Wildlife SOS and brought to VVBRF for off-site treatment.
Physical examination had revealed that the leopard sprained his hind legs during the fall. After providing the necessary medical care, the young feline was released back into its natural habitat. The Wildlife SOS team operating out of VVBRF often assists Van Vihar National Park in performing complicated rescues and treatment procedures.
In March 2021, a critically wounded tiger was rescued from a human-tiger conflict scenario and brought to the Van Vihar treatment facility. The male tiger suffered fractures on his skull and left hindlimb, and was left with grave wounds and lacerations all over his body. His only mistake? Roaming too close to human habitations. But due to the consistent treatment and medical care provided by the Wildlife SOS and VVNP team, the tiger gradually recovered from his fractures and wounds.
Apart from the conspicuous threats of habitat fragmentation and degradation, encroachment of natural spaces is posing many dangers to wild animals, one of which is the presence of open wells. These wells have become death traps for the inhabitants of the wild and claimed many lives in the process. Wildlife SOS has rescued leopards, hyenas, jackals and even bears from these deep, open wells. Some of these encounters can turn out to be extremely grave for the animals.
With no proper covers to close the mouth of the wells, it is quite difficult for animals to spot them. Animals that fall into dry wells are often killed instantly, or they endure lingering deaths if not rescued. Those falling into water-filled wells can drown and die from asphyxiation.
To date, Wildlife SOS has rescued over 40 leopards from drowning in open wells in Maharashtra, a state with one of the highest populations of leopards in the country. To make the state a safe haven for leopards and other animals, Wildlife SOS has initiated the Open Wells Project to cover as many as 40 wells.
Rescuing and treating animals from such life-threatening situations is one of the most important tasks we carry out, but there are immense challenges in terms of gathering resources. This is where you can help us save India’s wildlife. Click here to become a monthly donor for Wildlife SOS and support our cause.