Green Minute News:

A Striped Hyena was recently rescued from a 30-foot-deep open well in Maharashtra. Incidents of wildlife species falling into open wells that are dry or wet have been reported from across the country especially in villages bordering forests.

In a harrowing operation, the Maharashtra Forest department and Wildlife SOS rescued a striped hyena from a deep well at Buchkewadi village in Junnar division. The Hyena was discovered by local farmers struggling valiantly for hours in the deep waters. Later, this near threatened species was safely released back into the wild.

The Striped hyena is the only hyena species that is found in the Indian subcontinent and is protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Primarily a scavenger (feeding on ungulate carcasses), the species is a nocturnal animal and emerges only in the darkness and returns to its lair (located in caves or rock fissures or rocky hills) before sunrise.

Classified as ‘Near Threatened’ on the IUCN Red List, their global population is estimated to be under 10,000. It is the only extant species in the genus Hyaena. With a decrease in its prey base, the species is witnessing a continuing decline in the last few decades.

Now how did this hyena fall into a well? It was an uncovered well that was located in the periphery of a forest which is home to several wild animals including hyenas that often venture out into human habitation in search of easily available prey or shelter. Equipped with rescue gear and a trap cage, a four-member team from Wildlife SOS conducted the rescue operations.

The team lowered a trap cage into the well and after a few attempts, the hyena successfully entered it. Once safely inside, the cage was carefully lifted out and it was later released back into a neighboring forest.

Dr Nikhil Bangar, Wildlife Veterinary Officer, said, “The hyena, suspected to be a female, was exhausted from its struggle to escape out of the well and had sustained minor abrasions on the body. As there were no major injuries and the animal was fit, we released her back into the wild.”

“Animals trapped in such dangerous situations are already very stressed so ensuring their safety and comfort is our priority. Despite the years of experience on our hands, our rescuers always take into consideration the possible risks and challenges while conducting such rescue operations,” said Kartick Satyanarayan, CEO of the NGO. 

Ajit Shinde, Range Forest Officer, Junnar said, “Open wells are a common threat to wildlife around villages and our teams are always vigilant to provide any assistance when it comes to rescuing animals in distress.

This incident took place just weeks after the dramatic rescue of a leopard from a 45-feet-deep well in the Otur range in the same state. Using an ingenious method, the distressed feline was saved from drowning by lowering a charpai (a woven bed) for it to climb onto for support.


According to wildlife experts, wildlife species like leopards, sloth bears, hyenas, gaur, sambar, chital, etc have often fallen into open wells or disused wells in rural areas when they are either hunting a prey or running away from people while being chased or stoned. In many states across the country, incidents of leopards falling into open wells is being reported almost every month.

Open wells whether dry or wet have surfaced as big threats to wildlife species as they have often sustained injuries or found dead in deep wells after falls. In villages bordering protected areas, incidents are rising as wells have neither any covering nor any parapet wall around it. Further, most wells do not have the provision of stairs or any platforms which could in fact, aid and help in rescue of wildlife species.