Tuesday, 18 June 2013

MATT SALUSBURY: Big cats in Dorset - London Cryptoozology Club expedition, with Jonathan McGowan

Jonathan McGowan (above, with sika deer pelvis fragment which he says bears teeth marks from a Big Cat) is a Big Cat consultant familiar to readers of this blog from his talks at CFZ's Weird Weekend, kindly hosted myself and two others from the London Cryptozoology Club (LCC) in early June on one of his regular Big Cat surveys with the Dorset Big Cats Group.

He is a naturalist and works at Bournemouth Science Society, and also does taxidermy. (McGowan said he was busy with taxidermy at the moment, most of it restoring hundred-year-old museum exhibits. The century-old sea eagle he was restoring for the Dorset County Museum had to be moved off one of the armchairs when the LCC rendezvoused at his Bournemouth home.) To his dismay, McGowan's most famous for his roadkill diet, which accounts for all the meat he eats, and has seen him interviewed on TV and radio shows in the US and Russia.

While the leopards reported in the UK used to be almost exclusively melanistic (black) leopards, now we're seeing "more spotted ones," says McGowan. The "leopard wool" (below, the under-layer of fur) we later picked off the barbed wire fences at Purbeck was from a spotted leopard. 

Most people taking the chain ferry from Bournemouth over the estuary head straight for Shell Bay Beach (below, famous for its nudist colony) but few beach-goers are aware that there are "leopards on the beach at night." 

Read on...

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