Incredible rescue after Dartmoor pony became stranded on cliff face
The complex rescue of a pony which was stranded on a Cornish cliff ledge after tumbling more than 230ft has been revealed in dramatic series of pictures.
Coastguards, firefighters specialising in mineshaft rescues, an RSPCA rescue team, and Royal Marines from Plymouth-based 539 Assault Squadron were all involved in the operation at Rame Head in South East Cornwall.
The Dartmoor pony had been stuck on a ledge for four days, after somehow slithering most of the way down cliffs some 300ft high.
A firefighter first roped down the steep cliff, near the iconic Rame Head chapel, to coax the stranded animal onto a small, but inaccessible, beach.
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The Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which didn't have a suitable boat of its own available, then called on the help of 539 Assault Squadron, based at Turnchapel in Plymouth.
The Royal Marines' off-shore raiding craft first picked up the RSPCA, coastguard and Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service team before dropping them off on the beach.
Vet Sam Pawson, from Clifton Villa Veterinary Surgery at Truro, successfully fired a tranquilliser dart at the animal.
Once anaesthetised, the pony was manoeuvred on to a raft, floated out to the landing craft and dragged aboard.
The landing craft then motored to nearby Cawsand where the animal was taken ashore on Wednesday and stabled nearby.
Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service group manager Martin Wingrove, who led the operation, said: "The pony was none the worse afterwards although she quickly downed a bucket of water.
"The real mystery is how on earth she managed to get down so far and survive. It was as if she had been plucked off the cliff top and placed there."
A Royal Marines spokesman, praised the "deftness and flexibility" of the rescue, and said they got the call during a routine training exercise. He added: "The crews had to react to the situation as they saw it."
RSPCA inspector Peter Ferris said the female pony had been named Marina in honour of the marines.
"Now all I've got do is find her owner," Mr Ferris said. "If no one comes forward, I might adopt her myself."