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Maharashtra lost 1,500 animals to uncovered wells in past 10 years, act before it’s late, say activists

Hindustan Times
New Delhi
23 Aug 2017

Uncovered wells around forests have killed around 1,500 animals in Maharashtra in the past 10 years, according to data from Wildlife SOS, a wildlife conservation group.

A case in point could be last week’s incident, wherein a golden jackal fell into an uncovered 10-foot-deep well in Junnar. He was pulled out safely by a team from Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre, which has rescued 42 animals from open wells at Junnar, Ambegaon, Khed and Shirur between 2016 and 2017.

Not just jackals, leopards, wolves, jungle cats, civets, and a Sambar deer, too, have been rescued from such wells in Junnar forests near Pune over the past two years.

“With people living close to forest areas, there is no buffer zone between the habitat of animals and farms located close to them,” said Dr Ajay Deshmukh, senior veterinarian, MLRC. “In search of food, water and territory, the animals venture outside the forest, putting them at a risk of falling into these uncovered wells.”

With eight instances of leopards falling into wells in forests along the Sahyadri mountain range in 2016, the Wildlife SOS?has started an online petition in March, asking Pune district collector to get the wells covered or fenced.

“The revenue department needs to make construction of safety walls around wells mandatory,” said Deshmukh.

Officials from the state forest division said the village eco-development committee – wherein villagers participate in protection measures, patrolling, anti-poaching activities – has begun fencing wells as a temporary measure.

“We are in talks with the revenue department to make the rule stringent. With support from local villagers, the cases should reduce by the end of this year,” said a senior official from the forest department.