Wednesday, 18 April 2012

An abundance of sightings

Over the last week or so there has been a rash of sightings across Kent, including a daylight sighting of a black leopard at Upchurch, and a sighting of a lynx near Longfield. There have been several other reports - some currently under investigation - including two sightings of black leopard at Dartford, one at Bexley, one at Hempstead, near Gillingham, and one at Darenth.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

More sightings...

This Easter period has certainly been one of busiest on record regarding sightings of exotic cats throughout Kent. Several investigations are under way, after a lynx was observed in woodland in the Sittingbourne area. The sighting, which took place today (10th April) in broad daylight concerned a group of young children who were walking home when they observed a large 'orange-coloured' cat which was sitting on a log. The children were naturally unsettled by the appearance of the animal and they ran home and told parents. The animal they described matched the description of a lynx, orange-yellowy coat, mottled markings and a white underside to the body. Sightings around the area, although infrequent, date back more than 100 years. Some researchers believe that the lynx - once native to Britain - never fully died out a few thousands of years ago, and that this elusive animal could well have hung on until the modern day, especially after releases into the wilds during the 1960s and '70s.

There has also been more activity of what the press like to call the 'beast of Blue Bell Hill', and this is currently under investigation.
The big concern for parents is that a large cat would attack their children. In the United States the puma, also known as cougar and mountain lion, has been known to attack children, especially those flitting through trees as they run or cycle. In parts of Africa and Asia the leopard has also been known to attack children, particularly in areas that harbour small, forest-based villages. In the UK there's no evidence, as yet, to suggest that large, elusive, predatory cats will attack humans, but as always, it is advised that children, or adults, do not corner, provoke or attempt to injure/capture such an animal. The instinct of a wild animal, when cornered, is to retaliate, in order to free itself from the situation it is in. Whilst a number of researchers may enjoy the seemingly modern mystery of the so-called 'big cat' situation, one must also bear in mind the serious nature of this predicament, in that in the case of black leopard and puma, the UK now harbours animals which should not be there.

It seems highly unlikely that the Department Of Agriculture, and similar groups, will invest money or full-time study into the phenomenon, hence leaving the research up members of the public to collate sightings and evidence. Even so, an attack on a child would no doubt wrench the 'big cat' mystery from the hands of the local researcher and become a matter for the police etc, to handle. An injured or cornered 'big cat' would be a formidable opponent for anyone, and whilst such a reaction would not be the fault of the animal, such an encounter may well evoke a witch hunt, with all manner of terrified parents, hunters, etc, taking to the woodlands attempting to flush out the animal. The huge issue, as always, is the seemingly lack or awareness, and abundant ignorance of the authorities in these situations. It is fair to say, that the authorities do not have the time or money to follow up every alleged 'big cat' sighting, but in numerous cases they have, and we are sure that from a distance such a situation is being monitored, but as in most cases, funding is lacking to conduct projects to prove once and for all that large cats do roam the UK. With this lack of investigation it seems there is always the remote possibility of an attack on a human, and nothing actually being done about it.

Maidstone and Sussex sightings

A black leopard was sighted by a young girl near Harrietsham over the Easter period. The daylight sighting took place as she was walking thriugh the countryside on her way home, when she observed the animal pacing back and forth in the vicinity of a dead tree. The girl was so startled she ran the rest of the way home. Meanwhile, on 9th April there was a sighting in Sussex, reported as follows:
Monday 9 April,

'Your account of seeing a 'black leopard' is almost an exact description of what my girlfreind and i saw yesterday. We were on the outskirts of Cowden on Smithers Lane (turns into Furnace Lane Cowden end). Clear day, late afternoon and we saw what we could only describe as a big black cat. It was skirting the field along the hedgerow before crossing the field at a distance of roughly 500m all done at walking pace. Too far away to say 100% that it was a 'big cat' but we live just a few fields away and neither of us could put the sighting down to any other livestock/wild animal/cat or dog..(it moved just as you like).'

Monday, 9 April 2012

The wallaby of Sheppey

In March of this year a wallaby was hit by a car on the Isle of Sheppey. The interesting story was mentioned on the Kent Online site and can be read by clicking HERE

No-one knows where the animal came from, and there's no evidence that there's a breeding population, but it makes for an intriguing story.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Possible black leopard sighting on Aylesford outskirts

On Friday 6th April at approximately 1pm a large, black cat was seen near Aylesford. This, if the story is true - which we have reason to believe is - would concern the same black leopard seen at Blue Bell Hill over the last few weeks. The area in question has been a hot-bed of activity over the last twenty years, although reports of large cats have been made in the area for over 500 years. Aylesford, and the surrounding areas provide enough cover and prey for a handful of elusive animals, and the numerous lakes dotted around the place would mean a large cat such as a melanistic leopard could travel around without being seen. Quarries are also perfect areas for a large cat to hide - quarries are rarely frequented by humans, especially at night, and with an abundant source of rabbits, birds, a cat would not have to move far in order to hunt. A few months a go a black leopard was blamed after several geese were found killed at The Friars at Aylesford. Scat has also been found at Blue Bell Hill.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Black leopard seen at Ashford

At 12:00pm on Thursday 5th April an elderly couple travelling on the Brenzett Road, from a visit to Rye, observed a black leopard which crossed a field not far from the Bridgefields estate. The animal, like in most cases, was described as labrador-size with a long tail, a muscular shoulder and having patchy markings which could be seen on the hind quarters. The animal emerged from a hedgerow around 100 yards away and headed off towards the direction of Hamstreet.