Daring mission to rescue drone

IT WAS the dramatic moment when my year-long undercover investigation was almost blown.

My team, which included ex-Special Forces troops, used drones to covertly gather evidence. But during one mission earlier this year, disaster struck when the device developed a technical problem and was forced to land inside an enclosure containing 18 adult lions.

Its discovery could have alerted the ranch to our presence, so despite the terrifying risk of being mauled by the lions, the team drew up a plan to rescue it. One investigator, an ex-member of the Parachute Regiment, volunteered to sneak into the enclosure that night and rescue the device, which was about 200 yards from the perimeter.

At 1am, and the team quietly placed blankets over the top of the 12ft electric fence. The ex- Para then used a ladder to scale it and, with a GPS device, followed coordinates to the crash site.

‘It was a full moon, which wasn’t ideal as lions hunt at this time and conditions were perfect for them,’ the investigator said last night.

‘I was checking my back at regular intervals to make sure a lion hadn’t picked up my scent. The drone was actually located some distance from the coordinates – I caught a glint of its airframe in the moonlight.’

Astonishingly, the ex-soldier managed to infiltrate the ranch and dash back to safety without rousing the lions. With some understatement, he described his mission as ‘exciting’, adding: ‘I’ve got the best job in the world.’