WARNING: This article contains graphic images.

A swan has been found headless as the so-called Thamesmead Swan Ripper appears to have struck again. 

This latest slaughter is thought to be the seventh in a string of attacks on swans near Southmere and Birchmere lakes.

Paul West, 49, is an animal activist who has set up a volunteer patrol group to protect the birds.

From last week: Decapitated swan found in Thamesmead as locals look to step up patrols

Mr West said: "This was found early Saturday morning with its head cut off. There was a homemade hook, like a shepherds hook, found close to it. I think whoever is doing this used the hook to get the swan and pull it.

"We are doing our best to patrol the lakes but we can only do what we can do. It's more important than ever we get people on side."

The swan was found near Southmere Lake, up on a bank close to where the lake meets an offshoot canal.

Last week, another swan was found decapitated - the first of 2018. Swan Patrol was established towards the end of 2017, when the spate of killings started.

Since November, seven other swans and a goose have been found killed near the lakes.

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Mr West said that as well as the swans, a rabbit was pulled from the lake on Friday night (February 23) - but he does not think this is connected to the swans.

He said: "We are doing our best and we have had a few more people get in touch offering to help. We are doing our best, this is not something you want to see happening."

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All mute swans are owned by the Queen under prerogative right - except for small numbers of marked birds on the River Thames whose ownership has been conferred to City of London livery companies.

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act it is illegal to harm or kill a swan, with offenders facing six months’ jail.

The RSPCA said it is working with the Met following these latest murders. 

A spokesman said: "We have been made aware of the latest deaths of two swans at Thamesmead and we have been working closely with the

"MET Wildlife Crime Unit and local policing team to review the evidence. We continue to appeal for anyone with information to contact the police or the RSPCA appeal line on 0300 123 8018.”

Peabody Housing Association have been approached for comment.