When a leopard in northern India found itself splashing around at the bottom of a well following a fall in early June 2018, the big cat may well have used up one of its nine lives. The no-doubt confused creature might not have known quite how it plunged some 25 feet to reach its current lowly position, but it must have been aware that it was now trapped. Something else the luckless leopard did not know, however, was that someone had spotted it taking a tumble. And when the distress call went up, it did so from a highly unlikely source – perhaps the last quarter that the imprisoned predator could have expected any mercy from.
Rajasthan is a vast and varied part of north-western India. In fact, it is the largest state in the country and is home to a sensational array of fascinating and often very scarce wildlife. From the Great Indian Bustard to the Slender Racer snake, to the more recognizable tiger and, indeed, the lesser-spotted leopard, there is no shortage of endangered and threatened species to be found in the region. And so there are opportunities aplenty for visiting animal lovers to get up close and personal with rare nature in the raw amid this beautiful part of the world.
Nevertheless, while the area’s wildlife is certainly a draw for many vacationing tourists, to the 68 million natives who inhabit the state, sharing their day-to-day lives with animals is pretty much second nature. That was why, when some worshippers at a temple in the northern Rajasthan city of Sikar noticed some monkeys gathering noisily around a well in June 2018, they apparently did not think much of the chattering commotion at first.