A terrified young leopard that fell into a 18m deep well clung to a log for three hours before her dramatic rescue.

A farmer in a village near Pune, Maharashtra state, was startled on Sunday morning when he heard loud panicked roars echoing from deep inside the village well close to his house. He saw the leopard trapped and struggling to stay afloat inside.

The Manikdoh Leopard rescue centre, run by the NGO Wildlife SOS in the area, lowered a small log to help the 3-year-old female leopard to stay afloat. Next a box trap was carefully lowered down, an operation that took three hours. When the weary leopard entered the box, she was carefully brought to the surface.

"The leopard was in a state of panic and had to be rescued immediately," said Dr Ajay Deshmukh of the rescue centre. Officials thoroughly examined the animal, which escaped major injury, and released it.

Advertisement

"There are a large number of open wells in the area and most don't have proper nets, increasing the risk of wild animals getting trapped inside them," said forester Ramesh Kharmale.

Leopards are often found in the area as the sugarcane fields provide a good hideout and cover for these animals struggling to find a foothold in vanishing forests.