Dramatic moment a LION is rescued from the sea after straying from a wildlife park into a port in India
Mail Online News
Footage shows rare Asiatic lion jumping into sea waters in Jafrabad Port
The big cat strayed into the port from the nearby Gir National Park
It was rescued by forest officials and sedated Asiatic lion population in Gir National Park rose to 523 in 2015
This is the breathtaking moment a lion was rescued from the sea off the Indian coast after fishermen spotted the wild animal sitting on the edge of a rock.
Bizarre footage showed the big cat prowling by the edge of the water off a beach in Jafrabad Port in Gurajat.
The lion looks out in the Arabian Sea, then turns back before jumping into the water with a splash and floating away from shore.
Locals gathered around the shore to get a glimpse of the rare sight of a lion paddling in sea waters
Locals gathered around the shore to get a glimpse of the rare sight of a lion swimming in sea waters.
It is believed the lion strayed into the port from the nearby Gir National Park. Forest officials were immediately informed and a rescue team was sent to lift the lion from the water.
The big cat was sedated and transported to the animal care centre.
An investigation is underway to find out how it arrived at the port, Reuters reported.
The Gir National Park is the last safe heaven for the Asiatic lion population, which has been decimated by hunting and drought.
Only one dozen Asiatic lions were still alive in the early 20th century.
However, a ban on lion hunting and preservation initiatives had seen the Asiatic population in Gir rise to 411 in 2010 and 523 in 2015, according to official figures quoted in May by Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel.
The latest census conducted earlier this year by 2,500 officials and volunteers found 109 adult males, 201 adult females and 213 cubs over 21,000 sq km area of Gujarat's Saurashtra region - which includes Junagadh and 10 other districts.
The wild animals were photographed and tagged by GPS during the census.
'Enumerators recorded unique identification marks like scars on the face, the shape of ears, tuft of hair on tail, colour, and belly folds. Using all this information with location details we removed overlapping and reached the final count,' Forest official CN Pandey told the BBC.
The sheer increase in lion numbers has posed new challenges to their safety. Some 40% of the lions now live outside the forest area and 260 lions have died in the past five years.
Environmentalists claim the Saurashtra region has become a 'death field for the Asiatic lion'.
Man-animal conflict has also increased. Lions have killed 14 people and wounded 114 others in the past two years.