Ten-day operation described as “most technical rescue”
A rescue operation to safely remove a further 23 sheep trapped on sea cliffs in Pembrokeshire has been completed by the RSPCA.
The operation began on April 1 and has been described as the “most technical rescue”, involving 65 sheep which have been successfully rescued. The sheep were on cliffs around 70-80 metres high and had spread over a wide area in groups. It was thought that the large flock had been scared over the cliffs by a dog.
Yesterday (April 10) three RSPCA specialist rope rescue teams and two boat teams were deployed to Mathry to rescue the remaining flock of sheep. A mountaineering rope rescue expert also attended. These remaining sheep had luckily found their way to an area with some forage and had with recent rain had some moisture too.
The operation today saw 23 sheep rescued with 22 of them being taken via the rescue boat to shore and one was hauled up to safety by a rope rescue team.
Last Monday (1 April) around 40 sheep were initially rescued using the boats, where the sheep were rescued from the bottom of the cliffs and on Tuesday three further sheep were safely rescued by the rope rescue team. Another sheep was then rescued on Friday, who had become stranded from the rest of the flock, and was stuck under a slab in a tiny sheltered cave away from any food.
RSPCA animal welfare officer Andrew Harris, who led this operation, said he was delighted for the rescue operation to come to an end.
“This has been a long and difficult rescue and the most technical rescue we have had to deal with,” he said.
“All the rescuers have worked really hard and it is great to see that these sheep are no longer in any danger and are back safely with the farmer. Luckily the sheep rescued have been mostly been uninjured and have just needed some food and water following their ordeal.”
RSPCA chief inspector for the South West Wales group, Romain de Kerckhove, said this operation has been very unique.
“This has been a challenging rescue which has taken some time to ensure the safety of these sheep,” he said.
“Due to difficult weather conditions, the exposed steep cliff face, along with the numbers of animals, the officers have had a challenging task.
“We often carry out sheep rescues, however, not quite on this scale. This has been a unique operation and we would like to thank everyone who has provided assistance in ensuring a successful outcome for these animals in need. Along the way we have had the fire service, police and an mountaineering rope rescue expert to provide extra help on site which has been invaluable.”
The RSPCA would like to urge people and dog walkers to take care around farm animals and ensure that their dog is kept on the lead at all times when in or near fields containing livestock.