In the heart of Uttar Pradesh’s village Hadoli, an extraordinary rescue operation unfolded. Wildlife SOS, in collaboration with the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department, embarked on a mission to save a male subadult golden jackal from the clutches of a treacherous 40-foot-deep dry open well.
It was a rainy day when concerned villagers stumbled upon the trapped golden jackal, instinctively recognising the need for immediate action. The Uttar Pradesh Forest Department wasted no time and promptly reached out to Wildlife SOS through their 24×7 emergency helpline. The call for help sparked a chain of events that would lead to a breathtaking rescue.
In the midst of persistent rain, a two-member team from Wildlife SOS equipped themselves with specialised rescue equipment and set out for Hadoli. Their mission: to bring the jackal back to safety and release it back into its natural habitat.
Upon arriving at the scene, the Wildlife SOS team was met with a daunting sight — a helpless jackal trapped deep within an open well. However, the team’s determination knew no bounds. With strategic precision, a cage was carefully lowered into the well, offering a lifeline to the stranded animal.
An hour of constant coordination later, a glimmer of hope unfolded as the canid cautiously climbed into the safety of the cage. Cheers and relief filled the air as the golden jackal was hauled to the surface, away from the perilous depths that had held it captive.
The focus was then shifted to assessing the jackal’s well-being. Wildlife SOS’ skilled veterinary team conducted an on-site examination, which revealed that the jackal was unharmed and in good health. The jackal was later released back into its natural habitat, marking a triumph for Wildlife SOS, the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department, and the resilient spirit of the jackal itself. The moment symbolised how collective efforts can ensure survival against all odds.
This heartwarming rescue was not an isolated incident for Wildlife SOS. Recently, we teamed up with the Maharashtra Forest Department to save a young female leopard from another dangerous 40-foot-deep open well. The leopard, approximately a year old, was swiftly taken out of the well and subsequently released back into the wild.
The challenges posed by open wells extend far beyond rescue operations. With an alarming estimate of approximately 8.7 million open wells scattered across India, they pose an ever-present danger to wildlife. These wells become treacherous traps, ensnaring animals while they carry out their routine activities. Thousands of animal lives are lost each year due to accidental falls into open wells, with depths of these wells ranging from 40 to 100 feet. The absence of boundaries or coverings makes these wells hazardous traps, leading to injuries or even death by drowning.
Leopards, being nocturnal creatures, face a unique challenge when it comes to avoiding open wells. During the night, these elusive predators often find it difficult to spot the sudden openings in the ground. As they roam their territories in darkness, they may inadvertently fall into open wells, leading to unfortunate and potentially fatal accidents.
Similarly, jackals, which are most active during the twilight hours and at night, are also prone to falling into open wells. Their natural curiosity and hunting behaviour might lead them to venture closer to human settlements, putting them at risk of encountering these hazards.
Wildlife SOS understands the urgency of mitigating this threat and has taken a proactive approach through the Open Wells Conservation Project. The project which started in 2022, is a monumental effort aimed at safeguarding wildlife and mitigating the dangers posed by open wells in Maharashtra. Through years of field observations and research, Wildlife SOS has identified wells that pose a high risk to wildlife and prioritised their coverage.
Since its inception, the Open Wells Conservation Project has covered 13 open wells, striving to minimise the dangers they pose to wildlife. The project further encompasses education and awareness initiatives aimed at local communities. By fostering a sense of responsibility and coexistence, Wildlife SOS encourages sustainable practices that can protect both humans and wildlife.
The battle against open wells rages on, with villages in proximity to forested areas serving as major hotspots for rescue operations. By addressing this issue head-on, Wildlife SOS aims to provide an environment where wildlife can thrive without the constant threat of falling into these unforgiving pits.
As we reflect on the remarkable rescue of the golden jackal, let it serve as a reminder of the critical need to address the open well crisis. By supporting organisations like Wildlife SOS and raising awareness about the dangers of open wells, we can contribute towards the conservation efforts that protect the lives of countless animals, and ensure a brighter future for wildlife in India.