Journal Article

2019

Sanjay GubbiAparna KPallabi ChakrabortyVijaya Kumara
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Big cat in well: an unconventional threat to leopards in southern India

Abstract

The Vulnerable leopard Panthera pardus is declining as a result of poaching, habitat loss, retaliatory killing and collisions with vehicles. In the southern Indian state of Karnataka there is also an unconventional threat that has received little attention: leopards accidentally falling into unsecured open wells. During 2008-2017 there were 70 incidents of leopards falling into wells, in 10 of 30 districts, with the greatest number recorded in Udupi district (46%). Leopards were released at the site (40%, n = 28), or assisted to escape on their own or were translocated after rescue (41%, n = 29). Eleven per cent (n = 8) of the leopards died as a result of the fall, and 7% (n=5) were sent to zoos, with serious injuries. The highest number of falls occurred during the pre-monsoon and monsoon seasons in districts with high rainfall, which may curtail visibility. Open wells are an emerging threat to the leopard and other animal species, and require covers and the security of a parapet.