A leopard who fell into a 20-ft-deep well near a tiger reserve in India escaped a watery fate thanks to villagers who constructed a ladder from scratch.
A leopard? In my well? It's more likely than you think, at least in India where rescuing leopards from wells of all sizes has become a thing, of sorts. The latest big cat rescue (documented in this video) occurred on May 31st in Dhundi village, near the Satpura Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh state.
There are about 15,000 wild leopards in India (compared with roughly 3,000 tigers) and more live in Madhya Pradesh than any other Indian state. Unlike the tigers, however, leopards do not enjoy the security of reserves and instead, roam the regions between the tiger reserves and surrounding farmland.
In this particular case, a leopard that had fallen into a deep open well was discovered by a passing villager who heard grunting and splashing sounds. The distressed beast was seen floundering in the filthy water, unable to climb the steep smooth concrete walls of the well.
It's thought the leopard was searching for food and/or water when it accidentally fell into the well – summer is just beginning in India and an ongoing drought forces wildlife to intrude into human-inhabited areas.
Leopards haven't exactly endeared themselves to rural Indians – several historic man-eating cats were responsible for over one hundred fatalities each in the early part of the twentieth century. Kudos to these villagers for not holding grudges and instead, alerting the IFS (Indian Forest Service).
When IFS assistant director of forest services Lokesh Nirapure arrived at the well, he assessed the situation and came up with an ingenious plan. Mobilizing the villagers, he oversaw construction of a six-meter (20 feet) long ladder from bamboo sticks and fibers.
Working as a team and guiding the ladder with ropes, the villagers were able to position the ladder close to the stranded leopard. It didn't take long for the big cat to put two and two together, then climb the ladder with care, rung by rickety rung, until it reached the well's rampart.