An Indian village was woken up on Sunday morning with screeching roars coming from a nearby well.
While hunting prey in the dark of night, a female leopard had managed to fall into an 18-meter-deep (60 feet) water well on the edge of Pimpalgaon Siddhanath village in rural Maharashtra. Bobbing its head up and down in the water and struggling for air, time was of the essence. The nonprofit animal conservation group Wildlife SOS quickly turned up on the scene and hatched a rescue plan with the help of local residents.
“The leopard was in a state of panic and had to be rescued immediately,” Dr Ajay Deshmukh, senior veterinarian at Wildlife SOS, told the Indian Express.
Firstly, they dropped a makeshift wooden raft into the well to give the leopard something to hold on to. They then lowered a metal cage into the well with the assistance of the dozens of people who had gathered out of concern and curiosity.
Luckily, all went to plan. The veterinarians gave the leopard a check-up and found that she was healthy enough to be released back into the wild, despite her troubling morning.
“It’s striking to see so many people working together to save a trapped leopard,” Wildlife SOS Executive Director Nikki Sharp said in a press release. “We often hear stories of these animals being poached for their skins, poisoned, even set on fire. So it’s deeply heartening to see a community pulling together to help a predator. We’ve been working very hard in this area to help educate people about wildlife. We hope this is a sign that the awareness program is paying off.”
Residents of this rural pocket of India are no strangers to leopards. As Wildlife SOS explained in a statement on the rescue: “Leopards are often spotted in this area, as there are several sugarcane fields that provide a safe cover of these animals, who are struggling to find a foothold in the vanishing forests due to habitat modification.”
You can watch the miraculous rescue in the Wildlife SOS video below.