Thursday 27 January 2011

Black leopard seen near Ruckinge

Ruckinge sits on the fringe of Romney Marsh. At midnight on Monday 24th January 2011 a couple watched from their bedroom window (at a distance of fifteen-feet), a large, black cat, measuring over three-feet in length, which slinked from their drive. The couple had seen a black leopard previously, in 2005 at Kingsnorth, in Ashford. This sighting came after the bizarre statement from the Daily Star of the same month that there were "thirteen black leopards on Romney Marsh", according to wildlife expert Dave Riches.

Saturday 15 January 2011

Big cat seen at Darenth

It's always nice when people who are a bit sceptical towards 'big cat' sightings, actually see one. This email came from a chap named Ray:
'The week before Christmas (2010) I was in Darenth Valley Hospital, and the day that I was being discharged I was waiting in a small area near some windows and I looked out and I am estimating about 100 yds away I saw a black cat walk along side of a fence and disappeared through a gate. I have always been sceptical of so called big cats but have always tried to have an open mind about anything really, anyway I am certain that this cat was not a pet type cat I reckon it was about 3 to 4 foot long , very long tail thick fur right to the end, no way was it an ordinary cat, kept thinking if only had camera but no time to take photo anyway, a couple of nurses I was told had seen it climbing a tree.

I heard you on BBC Kent today and found your web site and thought I would let you know, on the day I saw it everything was covered in snow so the cat showed up well, and it was about 1 pm'

Bizarre 'big cat' story of the month

Every now and then a completely ridiculous story makes the local, and sometimes national newspapers, concerning 'big cat' sightings. The latest, pertaining to Kent, comes from the Daily Star newspaper of Saturday January 15th 2011, under the headline, 'Panther alert at A-plant'. Now, as we all know, newspapers aren't exactly the most knowledgeable sources when it comes to facts, but the following story simply makes a complete mockery of the so-called 'big cat' mystery.

The report read: 'Up to 13 black panthers are living near a UK nuclear power station. The big cats are blamed for a spate of attacks on sheep on Romney Marsh near the Dungeness atomic planet.'

The first sentence alone is enough to send serious researchers cringing back to their homes, but it gets worse, the Daily Star adds, 'Wildlife expert Dave Riches has seen panthers on the Kent marsh several times and believes there are up to 13. Farmers have found dead sheep up trees where panthers eat, Dave added: "There are big claw marks on the trees."

There are so many things wrong with this report, but I guess we could expect such inaccuracy and drama from a tabloid, but for any researcher, serious, or otherwise to state, or even be included in a statement which claims there are "13 panthers" on Romney Marsh, needs their head examined. Many people state that Romney Marsh is a vast area - in Kent it may be considered so, but it's not the wilds of Africa. Whilst there have, in the past, been sightings of black leopard, puma and lynx around the area, there are NOT "13" 'panthers' inhabiting it. A large cat such as a black leopard (or what newspapers are keen to call 'panthers') has a vast territory, an animal, mainly hunting at night could comb an area of some fifty to one-hundred square miles. When a solitary male and female meet they can produce up to four cubs. However, there is NO evidence whatsoever to suggest that "13" leopards are roaming an area which simply could NOT harbour them. The marsh is very open, at times desolate, !13" black leopards would stick out like a sore thumb and certainly be a danger to the public and sheep would be killed at an alarming, and not an infrequent rate. A leopard does not have a fixed den but will roam an area searching for food. The marsh provides ample enough food for one or two of these animals. If a female produces cubs they will stay with the mother for around eighteen-months and then make their own way in life in their own territory. Surrounding areas such as Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Deal, could also provide enough habitat and prey, but again, for a small pocket of animals, and not "13" 'panthers.

It's no wonder there is scepticism towards the existence of such animals when silly headlines and statements constantly filter through to the press. Usually we are used to the 'beast of...' type tags, but for a wildlife 'expert' to claim there are "13" panthers roaming one specific area of Kent is beyond the realms of madness. It's more than likely the area may become besieged with hunters, and once again the study of such animals is made a mockery of.

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Mystery sheep death at Lenham, near Maidstone

The first possible evidence of 'big cat' activity for 2011 comes from Lenham where a farmer has lost a sheep in mysterious circumstances. The ewe, which was pregnant, was found next to a trail of fleece as if a large animal had attacked from the rear with sharp claws. There was no other mess, but the ewe had been removed of its lamb, the belly tidly eaten. The farmer does not believe a fox or dog was the culprit.