A critically endangered Asiatic lion has been pulled to safety after slipping down a 60 foot deep watering hole and nearly drowning.
Dramatic footage shows villagers in remote Amrapur in Gujarat, India, where some of the only remaining members of this lion species exist.
The distressed eight-year-old lion can be heard roaring as it stands on a small ledge at the side of the well – which was nearly full with water.
Rescuers lowered a mattress into the well in a bid to give the exhausted lion a platform to stand on, after it had spent hours treading water.
Using flimsy-looking strings of rope tied around the lion’s body, the locals collectively hoisted the distressed animal to safety. It remains unclear who managed to tie the chord around the wild animal.
“After it jumped on the bed [mattress] again, we tranquilized the lion and pulled it out of the well,” said Ramesh Katara, deputy forest conservator for the local district.
The lion was in good health despite the fall, but was sent to an animal care center as a precautionary measure. Katara said that the lion will remain at the center for a while before being released into the wild.
Only 200 to 260 Asian lions live in the Middle East and India, with an additional 200 living in zoos, according to National Geographic.
The animals once ranged from the Mediterranean to India, covering most of West Asia where it was also known as the Persian Lion.
Compared to its African counterpart, the males of the Indian lion have a rough-looking mane and a characteristic skin fold on their stomach.
The Asiatic Lion grows to a height of approximately three feet, with their length – not including the tail – ranging from six and a half to nine feet long.