Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Is this the 'beast' of Essex ? Of course not...

On 22nd August the Daily Star described an encounter at Ongar, Essex with a 'big cat', accompanying the article was a photo of the 'mystery' animal. Kent Big Cat Research, along with several other researchers, vets, zoologists, naturalists, were also shown the image and all replied that the cat in the photo was nothing more than a large domestic. Sadly these type of stories still crop up in the UK press. Does anyone remember the cat caught on camera in Sussex a few years back ? The image clearly shows a domestic cat and yet the gent who took the photo is still adamant the animal is a 'black panther'.

Most recent, day-time 'big cat' sightings

Over the last month there has been a wave of reports from East Kent. There have also been two impressive daylight sightings, both concerning black leopard. On Monday 22nd August 2011 at 4:30 pm a Mr West and his wife were looking after their grandchildren and took them to The Glen, on the Isle of Sheppey. Whilst walking down a woodland path, Mr West, a retired scientist, with a zoology degree, observed a large, black animal sitting on the pathway 40 yards ahead. Like most 'big cat' witnesses, Mr West initially thought the animal must be a dog until he got a better view and realised it was a large cat - its tail was extremely long and the way it slinked off into the undergrowth was not the behaviour of a dog. The previous day at Dungeness, a woman named Patricia was walking her dog at 6:30 am. The area, full of overgrown pathways and woods, had previously spooked her large dog which had sniffed out some extremely large paw prints. As Patricia's dog sat in the back of her jeep she noticed it was staring at some bushes. Suddenly, from the undergrowth an enormous black cat emerged and slinked along the fence line. Patricia attempted to reach for her binoculars but her movement was sensed by the cat which looked at her then casually made its way out of sight.  In both instances the witnesses got a very clear view of the animal and a third daylight encounter took place on Tuesday 30th August 2011 at Etching Hill. A man jogging at 8:00 am on a bridle path was stunned to see a massive black cat sitting its haunches observing rabbit and sheep. The cat did not see the man, but the male witness hurried from the area, arriving home to his partner commenting that he looked as "white as a ghost". The witness stated categorically that the animal was an enormous cat measuring approximately six-feet in length.

Of course, when such reports appear in local newspapers, the witnesses, and those who investigate such reports are targeted by cowardly internet users who make it their days obsession to write insulting comments from the comfort of their armchairs. Those who cannot see any further than their noses really should get out more and study the wildlife around them. In all three instances neither witness thought about taking a photo - because the last thing they expected to see on a daily jaunt was a 'big cat' Even so, sceptics need to realise that whilst some reports are misinterpretation there is a strong core of reports every year, across the UK, which prove that large, exotic cats DO inhabit the UK. The biggest concern is the ignorance of those sceptics who not once are able to disprove. Whilst one can simply scoff at a report, it's time sceptics proved that a big cat did not kill a sheep, and understand that native animals in the UK do not kill the same way as a leopard. Sceptics need to look into the history of such sightings, and examine all the evidence put forward rather than stating that such animals do not exist simply because they haven't seen one. This naive attitude is laughable, but also extremely sad. When paw prints, hair samples, and scat are proven to belong to a large cat such as a leopard or puma, why do sceptics continue to debate it ? Does the fact they could be wrong mean that their sad existence no longer has worth ? The cats being seen in the wilds of the UK are not ghosts or aliens, they are simply out of place, but well established wild animals, and there's nothing that mysterious about it. The sad fact is that whatever evidence is produced, some sceptics refuse to accept it, despite their inability to disprove it.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Puma sighting at Horton Kirby

Mid August 2011, 7:00 am - male witness driving to work, noticed a large animal laying in road 100 metres away. Animal got up and slowly walked away. Witness described it as being "...sandy coloured, having big back legs and a long tail with a black tip."

The year previous same witness observed a lynx in a field.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Tonbridge black leopard sighting

Friday 12th August 2011
Male witness running on a remote woodland path with his labrador. The area is a cross country track between Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells, flanked by thick woods. As they came around the bend, approximately 150 metres away they saw a large, black animal sitting on the pathway which at first glance the witness took to be a dog. When the animal casually sauntered off into the woods he realised it was a cat - larger than his own labrador dog.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Hawkinge leopard

Around midnight, during the early part of August 2011, two people travelling on a country lane, half a mile east of the rubbish tip at Hawkinge, surprised an enormous cat which cleared the road in one bound. The cat, which was extremely dark in colour, had a tremendously long tail, and with this measured approximately seven-feet in length and appeared just ten metres away. The witness, some 16 years previous had seen a similar cat.

Daylight leopard sighting

On Thursday 11th August 2011 at 1:15pm a female motorist named Jayne was travelling through Canterbury, on the Canterbury Road, A291, when she observed an enormous black cat in the middle of the field. The field, situated before the bend of Broad Oak Stores, just past the Punch Tavern public house, enabled the animal to stand out quite clearly, so if anyone else has seen the cat please get in touch.

Also this week there have been sightings from Sevenoaks (two), Sheppey, and Ashford.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

A28 Ashford leopard sighting

Reports of 'big cats' seen in the daylight are reasonable common - like a domestic cat, a leopard/puma will bask in the sun, saunter across a field etc. On Monday 8th August at 3pm a couple driving on the A28 - from Tenterden to Ashford, got a clear view of a large, powerful, black animal which shot across the road from the Singleton side and headed towards the Great Chart side. Although the Great Chart bypass was busy, the witnesses were the only car on the road for this sighting.

A very old leopard story...

One of the most popular theories to explain as to why large, exotic cats roam the UK, concerns the introduction of the 1976 Dangerous Wild Animals Act. During the 1960s and early '70s it is a known fact that many people across Britain owned 'big cats', as pets. However, whilst many animals, especially puma kittens and black leopard cubs, were released around the time (despite the fact that many researchers believe this is not the case, bizarrely), and simply explain the current populations of cats in the UK, there are also an abundance of stories from centuries previous which suggest that leopard, puma, lynx, were inhabiting the woods. Of course, such animals may have escaped from private menageries, but the older reports are far more important with regards to piecing together a puzzle which the press, and some researchers believe is a modern jigsaw of mystery - but it isn't. Recently researcher Richard Muirhead discovered a fascinating clipping from the Blackburn Standard of 8th June1836 which states: 

'LEOPARD HUNT – On Monday last a strange-looking animal having been seen in the fields near Wheathamstead, Herts, a small party went in search,supposing that it was a deer which had been scared out of Brocket-hall-park by the gloomy looks of its noble occupier. Great was their surprise at finding in a hedge a large leopard, which stole away, followed at a respectful distance by the sportsmen, who were only armed with fowling-pieces loaded with swan shot. As it was endeavouring to escape it met a labourer at work in the fields whom it attacked and dangerously wounded, but his life was saved by a mastiff fastening on the leopard, and enabling Mr Norman Thrale to approach within a few yards, and disable it with a discharge of swan shot. It was shortly afterwards destroyed, and was found to weigh 14 stone. It had breakfasted off a dog, whose head was found. It is not known where the beast had escaped from.'

In Kent there are numerous reports of large cats on the loose dating back as far as the 16th century. Some, as already mentioned, have escaped from a private collection, but such reports are not scarce, and suggest that large cats have been with us a lot longer than many realise. The Victorian travelling menageries often lost animals, and not all were recaptured or shot dead.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Black leopard sighting at Chislehurst

On Wednesday August 3rd 2011 at 5:00 am a black leopard was observed by a female witness at Chislehurst. The animal, described as "bigger than a dog and definitely feline" was disturbed when the witness opened her bedroom window. The cat ran off sown the garden. This cat's territory also takes in Orpington, Bromley, Sidcup, Dartford and Bexley where over the last few weeks there have been a string of reports.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Recent sheep kill and sightings

An undisclosed area in Kent is currently under investigation after several sightings of a black leopard which left a sheep kill. A female witness saw the large, black cat on 21st July as it crossed a village road and headed into a churchyard. Around the same time a sheep carcass was discovered by the woman as she walked her dog. The carcass had been found away from the flock, under the shelter of trees, and was completely stripped, only the skull and spine remained. The rib cage had been completely chewed, and there was no sign of the fore legs or shoulder blade. What was left of the spine harboured two puncture marks in the throat.

On 25th July a black leopard was witnessed at Minster, on the Isle of Sheppey, by a woman staying at a caravan park. This is also under investigation.