Sanctuary Wildlife Photography Awards 2017
Special Mention: Kartik Bhat
Open Category, Conservation Photography
Depth of Despair: The accusing, yellow eyes of the melanistic leopard that fell into an open well in the Hirgana village of Karnataka monopolises this frame. Luckily for this particular individual, help was at hand. The well-owner called the Forest Department who mobilised a swift rescue by covering the mouth of the well with a net, except where they lowered a ladder into its depths. The ladder led into a cage, which the drenched cat obligingly entered. It was later examined and then released into the nearby Kudremukh National Park. This powerful image illustrates one of myriad invisible threats to India’s wildlife – uncovered wells. NGO Wildlife SOS estimates that over the course of a decade, 1,500 wild animals died from falling into open wells in Maharashtra alone. The numbers for the country will no doubt be many times that. Given the situation, such charismatic and wrenching images are essential to bringing attention to the problem.