PANICKING villagers screamed and dived for cover when a marauding lioness sauntered down a high street looking for an easy meal.
Video footage shows the powerful predator, weighing around 250lb and standing almost four feet at the shoulder, being confronted by a van driver before scampering through the heart of the Indian village.
Deafening screams ring out as the lion causes pandemonium before vanishing from shot.
The footage emerged today after the authorities revealed the incident was the latest close encounter of the lion kind on the edges of the world famous Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat.
Up to 520 Asiatic lions still survive in the park, making it the endangered big cat’s last bastion. One time, Asiatic lions could be found from Bengal to the Balkans, but have been persecuted to the brink of extinction by mankind.
I couldn't believe my eyes
Earlier this year, the authorities took 17 lions into custody to check their scats – droppings – to see if they had the remains of three people killed in the region. The lions were later released.
Officials today explained how the lioness filmed had been seen around the village late last week and that a trap has been set up to capture her safely.
An official told the Times of India: “Our staff is present there and we are trying to capture her in a ringed cage.
“We don’t want to tranquilise her if possible. Once she is caged, we will release her in the forest again.”
In July, footage emerged of a pride of lions padding majestically through an Indian town like royalty on a walkabout.
The three adult lionesses and their six cubs were filmed by Mrunal Joshi sauntering outside his home in Junagadh, 150 miles north of Mumbai.
Mr Joshi said: “I couldn't believe my eyes - so many lions were walking on the road right outside my house."
ZSL London Zoo recently opened its Land of Lions exhibition as part of its ongoing conservation efforts to save the Asiatic or Persian lion subspecies.
The exhibit is not only helping scientists breed the animals in captivity but is also giving the public a chance to stay overnight in luxurious accommodation at the zoo.
ZSL has also trained rangers operating in the lions’ heartlands in the Gir Forest to build up a better picture of what is happening inside their protected area and identify threats.