A seagull's life has been saved after being targeted by cruel yobs armed with catapults in a "horrific" incident - who "walked over it" as they left the scene.

The gull was found in Edith Road, Canvey, on Tuesday (October 17) as several witnesses saw two men - one adult and one young - deliberately hit it with a ball bearing from a catapult.

Once the gull was injured, South Essex Wildlife Trust says the suspects simply walked over it and left the scene.

Rushed into the Orsett hospital's care, an x-ray found a nasty break to the metacarpus bone in the wing and the poor bird was taken straight into surgery.

In a complex operation, the charity managed to not only realign the fracture using a special external fixator, but also managed to repair the damaged tendon at the same time.

A spokesman for South Essex Wildlife Trust commented: "This gull is far from out of the woods, but we will do everything possible to fix such horrific cruelty.

"If any of you witnessed any unusual behaviour on Tuesday, please get in touch and, if you wanted to donate towards his care (orthopaedic operations are very expensive), please visit southessexwildlife.org/donate."

This attack comes amid a string of incidents across south Essex which have seen birds attacked and killed by yobs armed with catapults.

Canvey lake was surrounded by the bodies of geese on Tuesday evening with residents pointing the finger at youngsters who had been spotted shooting catapults.

Since the following gull attack on the island, South Essex Wildlife Trust has also seen four Canada geese killed in the same way and heard reports of similar cases in Pitsea.

The spokesman for the animal hospital added: "We cannot be sure that they are linked at this time, but please stay vigilant and report and suspicious behaviour to the police."