- The Mekong giant catfish has lived in Phattalung, southern Thailand, since 1991
- Heavy rain and flooding saw the enormous beast washed up into a small pond
- Villagers started rescue mission after spotting it thrashing around in the water
- The six-hour operation saw the rescuers transport the fish by motorcycle
Incredible footage has emerged showing dozens of villagers teaming up to rescue a 440lb (200kg) swamp fish that had become stranded in shallow waters.
The Mekong giant catfish, a critically endangered species, had lived in marshes in coastal province Phatthalung, southern Thailand, since 1991, becoming a local legend.
But heavy rain at the end of last month caused flooding in the region – washing the massive beast from its home into a tiny pond.
Villagers in Thailand band jump into a pond to rescue a huge catfish that had become stranded in the shallow waters
The waters subsided and on Monday morning and residents spotted the creature – nicknamed the ‘Swamp King’ by locals – frantically thrashing around in the shallow water.
They banded together and used a giant net to haul the wild fish out of the water and onto a motorbike trailer before racing over two miles to return it to its original home.
Footage captured the entire rescue – which took more than six hours – as they released the Pangasianodon species of catfish back into its original stretch of water during sunset.
Resident Khun Sooktong, from the Phatthalung district, said: ‘This is a natural fish that was left in the marshes of the village in 1991. We call it the swamp king. It’s like a monster.
‘At the end of November, continuing to the beginning of December this year, rain made the swamps overflow. There was more rain this year than ever before.
‘It’s expected that the fish escaped from one swamp and went into another, about 3km (1.8 miles) from the village.
The rescuers use a giant net to haul the 440lb wild fish out of the water
The villagers take the fish to its original home after placing it on a motorbike trailer
Rescuers release the Pangasianodon species of catfish back in its original stretch of water
‘I found it on December 12 but at the time was not able to handle it. So on Monday a lot of people came to help and it took sixes hours to release the fish to its original home.’
The Mekong giant catfish is a large freshwater fish native to the Mekong river basin and its tributaries in Southeast Asia and China. They can grow up to 10ft in length with some weighing up to 660lbs (300kg).
But they are classed by conservationists as critically endangered due to over fishing.