RAJKOT: Villagers living around Gir sanctuary, the last abode of Asiatic lions, are pretty used to watching rescue of wild animals from wells. But what they witnessed in Kandhi on Tuesday midnight, a tiny hamlet nestled amid the forest in Gir-Somnath district, was nothing less than an edge-of-the-seat thriller.
In one of the most dramatic operations in recent times, the forest department staff rescued an eight-year-old lioness that had fallen into a 50-feet deep well. The operation lasted for nearly 12 hours and rescuers had their share of anxious moments. Late in the night, the forest department got a call that a lioness had fallen into a well. A team reached the village and began the rescue operation in pitch darkness. Three lion trackers risked their lives and entered the well full of water to locate the lioness. Adding to their troubles was the fact that there was no electricity available at the farm where the well was located.
Forester Mansinh Parmar entered the well to locate the lioness and using a torchlight saw her sitting in a big cavity just above the water level. According to the veterinary protocol, it was not possible to tranquillize the lioness since it was very close to the water. At around 12 in the midnight, the rescue team decided that the entire well had to be emptied to save the lioness since it was not possible to bring her out without tranquillizing.
The forest department managed to get two electric motors of 10 horsepower (HP) and started the process of pumping out water from the well at around 5 am on Wednesday. It took nearly five hours to completely drain the well. Thereafter, three trackers — Ranjitsinh Parmar, Mansinh Parmar, and Vanraj Vala — along with a veterinary doctor entered the well in a parrot cage. Once the lioness was tranquillized, it was finally brought out at around 12 noon.
Assistant conservator of forest of Jasadhar range Nikunj Parmar told TOI, “It was an open well and we assume the lioness was in search of prey. It will be treated at Jasadhar Animal Care Centre and released in the deep forest.”
“Government provides assistance ranging between Rs 8,000 to Rs 16,000 to cover wells with parapet walls, but some villagers refuse to cooperate. It is possible that some children might also fall into such open wells. Therefore, it is in their own interest to avail this assistance and build the wall.”