Calf rescued in Cornwall © RSPCA23.01.14

We have co-ordinated the dramatic rescue of a young female calf who fell a hundred feet over a cliff during a landslip.

The heifer, a seven-month-old Dexter, became stranded in an inaccessible cove below the Lizard lighthouse in Cornwall.

Although the calf miraculously appeared relatively unharmed, planning her rescue would take several days. So, wet hay was dropped over the cliff to ensure the calf had adequate food and hydration while the rescue was worked out.

Co-ordinating a difficult rescue

First, RSPCA Chief Inspector Neil Thomas and representatives of Cornwall Fire and Rescue ruled out any possibility of winching the calf up the cliff. Help was then sought from the nearby Royal Naval Air Station at Culdrose and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

The RNLI concluded the shoreline and approach to the cove were too rocky to put personnel ashore. However, the Royal Navy did agree to make a search and rescue helicopter available on the afternoon of Tuesday 21 January.

Chief Inspector Neil Thomas said:

Calf being prepared for airlift © RSPCA“Myself and another rope rescue trained inspector managed to set a guide line into the cliff and work out a route down to the cove. Then a team of eight people comprising four RSPCA inspectors and one animal welfare officer, two Royal Naval ground crew and a vet descended to the cove.

“The weather was wet and squally and the ground was so saturated and unstable because of the landslip – it was OK going down but really difficult climbing back up because the ground kept giving way.

“The calf was remarkably uninjured and clearly had been able to drink from rainwater puddles as well as eat the hay thrown down to it.

“It weighed around a 100 kilos so it took a number of us to catch it and guide it into position on a tarpaulin placed over a cargo net. It was then sedated by the vet and the helicopter was called in.”

Airlifted to safety

The calf was airlifted to a secure field at the farm on the Lizard peninsula where it was reunited with its mother and the rest of the herd.

RSPCA Chief Inspector Neil Thomas would like to thank everyone involved in the rescue:

“This rescue was carried out in appalling weather conditions with a very strong Southerly gale blowing all day and frequent very heavy showers.

“The skill and courage shown by the helicopter crew in these conditions was absolutely remarkable and deserving of recognition.

“The whole on site rescue team were extremely soggy and some very muddy at the end but all were happy that the rescue had been a success.”

Help us rescue animals in need

To help the RSPCA carry out rescues like this you can donate online or give £3 by texting the word HELP to 78866 (texts cost £3 +one standard network rate charge).