19 Oct 2022

Environment: Covering Open Wells That Take The Lives Of Countless Animals And Humans In India

Mumbai: In every nook and cranny of India, one encounters marks of India’s past seamlessly blending in with its future. One such token of India’s past that is frozen in time is the groundwater well. These hubs of groundwater and its various incarnations -step wells, bore wells, tube wells – continue to dot the landscapes of India. 

Thousands perish every year due to accidental falls: The most commonly encountered well in India is the open well – an unlined cavity that allows access to the shallowest groundwater. 

Due to the absence of any boundary or covering, open wells in India take the lives of countless animals and humans. While the exact toll is unknown, there are estimates that thousands perish every year due to accidental falls.  

Open wells are wet and some dry: Often these wells can be as deep as 50 to 100 feet. Depending on the time of the year, some open wells are wet and some dry. Falling into these open wells is thus, hazardous, leading to injuries or even death by drowning.

Wildlife SOS has rescued hundreds of animals from the grips of open wells including barn owls, civet cats, leopards, and even leopard cubs. Wildlife SOS is a conservation non-profit in India, established in 1995 with the primary objective of rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife in distress, and preserving India's natural heritage.  

Problem of open wells is double-fold in Maharashtra: In the state of Maharashtra, the problem of open wells is double-fold. The most common animal that falls victim to these death traps is the leopard, a feline whose numbers are already dwindling. 

According to the Wildlife Protection Society of India, 95 leopards died in Maharashtra in the first six months of 2021. Open wells only risk adding to this perturbing statistic. 

Wildlife SOS has rescued over 40 leopards: To date, Wildlife SOS has rescued over 40 leopards from drowning in open wells in Maharashtra. In the beginning months of 2022, they have already rescued 2 more leopards from open wells in Maharashtra. 

The first leopard was an approximately 7-year-old male who was found struggling to stay afloat in a 50-feet-deep open well in Alkuti village located in Partner subdivision, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra. 

4-year old female leopard trapped in a 70-feet deep open well: The second was a 4-year old female leopard trapped in a 70-feet deep open well in Otur, Maharashtra. While both the leopards were safely rescued and released, their fate could have been drastically different. If the rescue team had arrived even minutes later, the leopards would have died. 

Open Wells Conservation Project: Determined to make Maharashtra a safe haven for leopards, Wildlife SOS has initiated the Open Wells Conservation Project – a monumental effort to cover the open wells of Maharashtra. This formidable undertaking has commenced after years of field observations and deliberation.

Most wells in Maharashtra exist on private land: An integral component of the wells project is gaining the informed consent of well owners. Most wells in Maharashtra exist on private land making it the right of the well owner to refuse to cover his/her well. 

The Wildlife SOS Field team has been working closely with owners to understand their needs, build a trusting relationship, and raise awareness about the need to cover wells

In stage 2 of the project, Wildlife SOS hopes that a larger number of wells in Maharashtra can be covered. The NGO aim to do this by improving designs and testing materials to make covering wells more cost-effective and faster

(By Roohi Narula)

No comments:

Post a Comment