Monday, 31 December 2018

ARTICLE: All Cornwall and Devon's big cat sightings revealed

The question of whether there is a big and mysterious beast roaming wild around the Moors of Devon and Cornwall is one that captures the imagination.

Many people remain convinced that the so-called ‘Beast of Bodmin’, actually exists, with the beast described as a phantom wild cat, possibly with two sharp prominent teeth, like those found on a leopard.

It was first spotted in 1983 and, since the first sightings, reports of the Beast of Bodmin have flooded in the police’s system.

Now the number of possible sightings reported to Devon and Cornwall Police in the last eight years has been revealed - scroll down to see the full list!

Read more... 

NEWSLINK: Are the mountain lion sightings in Monterey for real?

There are no photos. There is no proof. The government says they don't exist here. And so does the state. There are only quick sightings around town of the large cat known as the mountain lion. "It ran right in front of my truck a few weeks ago," said Kenneth Basler, a town official who said he saw the large cat around Stevens Pond off Route 23 between Monterey and Great Barrington. "It was around 4 feet long, not including the tail." Reports of mountain lions have gotten some mileage lately throughout these rural hills, with possible sightings, and on occasion, some worry about the safety of people and animals. But maybe there's nothing to worry about. The sightings are often met with suspicion; some say the "Bigfoot factor" is hard at work.


Sunday, 16 December 2018

NEWSLINK: No lessons from Avni? Three-old tiger killed by monsters in Chandarpur forest

While a controversy rages over lapses in the killing of a man-eating tigress at Yavatmal by a private hunter hired by the forest department, there is more bad news in store for tigers and animal lovers. A three-year old tiger was poached via electrocution near the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) at Chandrapur.
The core and buffer areas of the TATR have over 80 of the estimated 203 tigers in Maharashtra, making in the most tiger-dense landscape in the state with the neighbouring Brahmapuri forest division. According to National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) data, a total of 16 tigers have died in Maharashtra this year. This death takes the number to 17. In addition, three cubs were mowed down by a train last month at Chandrapur.

Read more... 

SIGHTING, UK: Beast of Bucks is back after terrified driver reports spotting mystery feline

For years locals have reported brief glimpses of a large cat - believed to be a puma and dubbed the ‘Beast of Bucks’ - stalking the area.

The latest sighting was reported in Princes Risborough on November 30 by a panicked homeowner, who spotted a large animal prowling just metres from her home.

Paulo Nicolaides, who has dedicated his life to wild cat research after developing an interest in the mystery creatures when he was a young boy, reported the latest incident on his ‘Big Cats of the Chilterns’ blog.

Read more... 

Thursday, 13 December 2018

NEWSLINK: Grocery shop owner killed in tiger attack near Tadoba-Andheri Tiger Reserve

In yet another tiger attack in Warora tehsil, a person was killed on the spot at Ramdegi, a scenic spot adjacent to Tadoba-Andheri Tiger Reserve (TATR),on Monday. As per reports, the deceased, identified as Sandip Arjun Titre, 38, was a resident of village Ralegaon in the tehsil. Sandip had a grocery shop at Ramdegi where tourists throng in large numbers to enjoy waterfall and scenic beauty of the place. On Monday, Sandip opened his shop around 8 am and carried out regular cleaning works. Later, he went to attend nature’s call in behind the bushes. However, a tiger hiding behind the bushes suddenly attacked Sandip.

When he failed to return, his wife asked other shopkeepers to find him out. And when they went to see him, they were shocked to horrifying scene. A tiger was eating the body of Sandip, stated Bhaurao Nannaware and Ramu Patil, the eye witnesses while talking to ‘The Hitavada’.

Read more... 

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

NEWSLINK: Orphaned tiger successfully relocated

The three-year-old tiger has been rewilded independently in Sanjay Tiger Reserve, Sidhi, from Kanha.

Translocation of orphaned tiger was successfully carried out from Kanha Tiger Reserve to Sanjay Tiger Reserve, Sidhi, on Monday. The orphan cub was rescued three years back from Mukki forest circle and was grown in captivity at Kanha Tiger Reserve. Three-year-old tiger has been rewilded independently in Sanjay Tiger Reserve, Sidhi.

A combined team of wildlife experts from Kanha Tiger Reserve, Pench Tiger Reserve and Sanjay Tiger Reserve completed necessary preparations as per the guidelines of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) before tranquilising the male tiger and his blood sampling.


Tuesday, 11 December 2018

ARTICLE: We must try to save ‘Highland tiger’

Attempts to save wildcats raise complex and morally tricky questions, writes Jonny Hughes. Of all Scotland’s wild mammals, the wildcat is perhaps the most elusive. I’ve only ever had a good sighting of one once – on the dunes at Coul Links in east Sutherland back in 1994. Though I didn’t know it at the time, the animal I saw was unlikely to have been a pure-bred wildcat, despite displaying all the physical characteristics of the species, including a wonderfully bushy tail. It’s highly likely it was a hybrid between a domestic cat and the ancestors of the European wildcats that colonised Britain 9,000 years ago by crossing the ice which then connected us to the continent.


Sunday, 9 December 2018

NEWSLINK: India losing a tiger every three days

India, it appears, is not as safe a country for its big cats, particularly leopards and tigers, with increasing numbers of their ilk falling prey to human activities, including poaching.

On an average, India is losing one tiger every three days and more than a leopard each day. As per the last all-India tiger census in 2014, the country had 2,226 tigers. The country is estimated to have between 12,000 and 14,000 leopards.

Read more... 

CARL WRITES: Dudley Zoo Snow Leopard Escape - 30/11/18

Dudley Zoo is back in the headlines once again following the cruel and totally unnecessary fatal shooting of Margaash – an eight year old snow leopard (Panthera uncia) who escaped from his enclosure back in October. The big cat broke free after his enclosure was left open by staff, and zoo officials made the drastic decision to terminate the extremely rare cat (rare over much of its range – with only between 3,500 and 7,000 left in the wild) after a concern for public safety, and the amount of time a tranquiliser would take to knock him out. The incident happened at 5 pm when the zoo was closed and no visitors were inside at the time.

Due to the fact Margaash escaped in the evening and had made his way into a small local woodland, and was therefore well away from busy urbanised areas, the euthanasia of this extremely rare cat is utterly unjustified.

Now, animal rights protesters from the Black Country Vegans Group have demonstrated outside the zoo after news broke last week.

“We wanted to make a point that this zoo is not a nice place and we’re not happy, we want people to think twice before spending money there”.

“He [Margaash] escaped because of keeper error, but looking at the enclosure he was in he was bound to escape, it was so small!”.

It took the zoo over a month before reporting the shooting of Margaash, so one might reasonably ask, what was the delay? It makes one think there is more to this story than meets the eye, and that we have not been told everything, the information isn’t clear and it’s definitely unsettling.

The Black Country Vegans Group has stated “We were protesting for people to think twice before going to the zoo, what other mistakes are being made that we’re not told about”.  

What other mistakes indeed?

Unlike many so called British big cat experts, who generally believe the British populations are sustained by natural (even hybridised) breeding, I conclude that even though propagation has on occasion taken place (this is evidenced by some reports of mothers with cubs), the British situation is actually continually bolstered by escapees from small holdings, incompetent zoos and from illegal private collections. There are still plenty of unscrupulous zoos; and even gangsters and drug dealers who own and use big cats for territorial purposes, and it’s these animals that escape, or are released, and are generally on the loose In Britain.

Most large zoos will undoubtedly report an escapee, especially when it’s a large predator, however, there are likely to be some small holdings who choose keep the situation quiet in order to avoid negative public opinions and possible closure.

I once worked at a small zoo in Worcestershire where a non native felid, a male Scottish Wildcat (Felis silvestris grampia), had previously escaped his enclosure and was never recaptured. The escapee hybridised with the local domestic cat population producing feral, and very aggressive wildcat/domestic hybrids. Once or twice, the hybrids would turn up in the local villages (and were collected) but the male wildcat that escaped the zoo was never seen again.

Regarding the escape from Dudley Zoo, Stacie Dunkley of the Black Country Vegans Group says “There was a massive outcry over this, which is good, but people need to think about the animals that are still there that need better care”.

The reason why the zoo took the drastic measure to shoot such a rare animal is clearly because they knew that if they lost track of the creature’s whereabouts for at least 24 hours they would possibly never see the him again!

And to think many people still believe there are no (and never have been any) big cats roaming the British countryside – they have clearly never heard of Felicity the Puma (1980), Xiang the Clouded Leopard (1987), Lara the Lynx (2001), and now, for a short while, the unfortunate case of Margaash the Snow Leopard (2018). Personally for me, there is really no mystery at all concerning the British big cat phenomena – they are very rare, and are mostly unrecorded, escapees, nothing more!

“I visited Dudley Zoo many years ago in my teenage years (I’m now 66) and thought back then it was kind to animals. But after this awful, and completely unnecessary atrocity regarding Margaash, the snow leopard, I have now completely changed my opinion and shall never visit again”

“Shame on Dudley Zoo for destroying such a rare and beautiful animal”.

Mrs. Frances L. Marshall, Welford on Avon, Warwickshire (05/12/2018).

I couldn’t agree more!

NEWSLINK: Mountain lion found dead with burns after California fire

Officials say a mountain lion that survived Southern California's recent wildfire was later found dead with badly burned paws.

The National Park Service said Friday that a GPS collar worn by the big cat known as P-64 transmitted signals on Nov. 26 and Nov. 28 — more than two weeks after the destructive Woolsey fire broke out.

The signals eventually stopped. On Dec. 3 a wildlife biologist hiked into hills northwest of Los Angeles and found the 4-year-old male mountain lion dead near a streambed.


Thursday, 6 December 2018

ARTICLE: Lions may disappear without urgent funding for conservation

If, like me, you’ve been avidly watching BBC One’s new nature series, Dynasties, you’ll probably be looking forward to the latest episode on lions, due to air this Sunday. In it, the protagonists, Charm and Sienna, will show us how hard it is to be a successful lioness in a land filled with enemies.

Under constant threat of marauding hyenas and cub-killing male lions, the two mothers have to fight for their lives to ensure their offspring have a chance of making it to adulthood. But the episode will also show us that the biggest enemy of lions isn’t other wild predators – it’s humans.


SIGHTING? UK: Is this footage of a panther prowling through Derbyshire woods?

A Belper man claims to have video evidence of a panther prowling through a Derbyshire woodland.

Jack Bryan, 28, believes he saw a big black cat roaming in the woods near Grindleford railway station on Tuesday while working in the Derbyshire Dales.

Mr Bryan, who works for Severn Trent, was clearing scaffolding off a nearby rooftop when he caught a glimpse of the "black panther" staring right at him.

Read more... 

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

NEWSLINK: Horror as tiger farm uncovered in heart of Europe

Horrified cops have busted an illegal 'tiger farm' where big cats were being slaughtered for their fur while their meat was boiled into stock cubes.
The secret raid - dubbed Operation Trophy - was the culmination of years of work by agencies working together across the Czech Republic.

Sickened inspectors found one freshly killed tiger and a chest freezer stuffed full of rotting remains when they swooped on the lucrative operation in Prague.
They later discovered that bones turned into stock cubes were worth up an incredible £52 per gram - which is the equivalent of £1,472 per ounce.

Read more... 

NEWSLINK: Pirates are killing Bengal tigers

When Rafikul Mali became a pirate in the Sundarbans, he knew he was in for a rough and uncomfortable ride. He’d braced himself for repeated run-ins with fist-size spiders and some of the two-dozen species of snakes that slither through the mangrove forests skirting much of Bangladesh’s coast and extending into India. He’d even prepped for a relentless cat-and-mouse game with security forces, who have often tried—and just as often failed—to dislodge pirate gangs from their jungle redoubts.

Read more... 

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

CARL WRITES: 10/11/18 - Grindleford, Derbyshire

Read the original story here.

"I’m afraid I just don’t see it! The eyewitness does describe what might have been a genuine big cat, however, I simply do not see one in the video. In fact, it’s very difficult to discern exactly what was being filmed at all. All I could make out in the short, blurry, ill-defined video was a black shape that doesn’t appear to be moving – maybe it’s simply a shadow! It really could be anything at all and not nessecerily animate. It’s also extremely difficult to estimate the dark objects dimensions (It might even be a black domestic cat) as the nearby trees and bushes do not clearly indicate the creature/object’s size.

Derbyshire does indeed have an interesting history of reports of this nature, with a definite spike in sightings reported since 2007.

However, with the lack of any discernible details it’s probably sensible at this time to dismiss this report as there is literally no good corresponding evidence to validate the sighting.

We should, however, probably expect further reports from Derbyshire in future."

CARL WRITES: 23/10/18 - Hatfield House, Hertfordshire

Read the original story here.

"I think it’s possible this might be an Oriental Shorthair, also known as the Rainbow Cat and occasionally “Dobby Cat”. However, the most appropriate title applied to the melanistic variety of this unusual breed must be the Oriental Panther Cat.

Originating from Thailand and belonging to the Siamese ‘family’ breed, Oriental Shorthairs are long-bodied cats with a sleek and muscular appearance, longish necks and slender tapered tails. They weigh between five and ten pounds and can be found in various solid colours such as white, blue (really grey), brown, chocolate, chestnut and of course jet black; and in many distinct patterns such as tabby, tortoiseshell, bicolour and even tricolour.

As a member of the Himalayan family of breeds, the Oriental Shorthair typically display peculiar “wedge-shaped” heads, tapering from the edge of the nose downward forming a triangle, making them appear angular and distinctive enough to seem almost panther-like when observed lineally. They also have characteristic long ears tipped at the top and rounded at the bottom and differ from the Oriental Longhaired version (recorded since 1995 – CFA) simply by possessing a pair of recessive long hair producing genes – in other words they are exactly the same breed just displaying variability in fur length.

The aforementioned jet black variety of the shorthair, the “Oriental Panther”, almost deserves its otherwise misleading name, as this beautiful shiny black domestic cat is rather pantherine in appearance, and can become quite aggressive. Today, these impressive domestic cats are popular pets and if allowed to roam freely, could very well be mistaken for small or juvenile panthers by would be eyewitnesses.

Oriental Panther Cats (or closely related breeds and/or crossbreeds) might potentially make up a small percentage of mysterious British big black cat reports. They are also a noticeably vocal breed that can emit deeper more aggressive sounds than typical domestic’s; that might make them seem larger and more intimidating than they actually are.

Mr Tom Pitt said “you don’t expect to see that sort of thing, It was the morning and I was barely awake”. This suggests there were probably unusual features visible, which were briefly observed and concluded to relate to the cat’s bulk when in reality might have had more to do with the total length of the animal, which compared to typical domestic cats is reasonably exaggerated in Oriental Shorthairs.

There is unfortunately little in the published photograph to accurately indicate the cat’s dimensions, and Mr Pitt is quoted as saying “It ran into the woods after that. I think we startled it, it was all so quick.”. Basically it was a brief encounter that convinced Mr Pitt it was not simply a typical domestic cat – and going by the photograph he might have been right.

As previously mentioned, Oriental Shorthairs are both sleek and muscular, with pronounced wedge shaped triangular heads, large ears tipped at the top and rounded at the bottom, large paws, longish necks, and slender tails ending in a point – with the possible exception of the dramatically pronounced base of the ears, all of these features can easily be observed in the cat in Mr Pitt’s photograph.

Mr Pitt said that he felt the animal he witnessed resembled a domestic cat but was noticeably larger (longer?) than what would typically be expected in domestic cats. This description along with the features clearly visible in the published photograph suggest a black Oriental Cat or another closely related breed/crossbreed might be responsible.

The mysterious cat photographed by Dog walker Mr Pitt at the Essendon end of the Hatfield House Grounds is definitely not that of a leopard or a jaguar (the two usual suspects for black mysterious cats in Britain), but also doesn’t seem to be that a typical domestic cat either. Therefore, I believe it’s reasonable to speculate that an unusual looking domestic cat breed such as an Oriental Panther Cat, or a closely related domestic breed of similar appearance, might have been misidentified as a black panther (Panthera pardus) from a distance.

Probably another genuine misidentification and definitely not any big cat species."

SIGHTING, UK: Dog walker stunned when 'beast bares teeth and growls' in Hertfordshire

Tom Pitt, 38, snapped the unidentified beast prowling the grounds at the historic Hatfield House yesterday.

While walking in an open grassy area, he noticed his dog fix a stare at a shape in the distance.

Unfortunately, the cat which caught his pooch’s attention seemed to be much larger than a domestic moggy.

Read more... 

SIGHTING, AUSTRALIA: Resident captures ‘big cat’ roaming fields in bizarre video

The video shows a large cat-like creature stalking its way through nearby fields.
Grant Denyer – who filmed the moment – can be heard remarking “there it is” as the animal moves into a clearing.

The creature – supposedly the Blue Mountains panther – occurred near his home outside Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Read more... 

Friday, 30 November 2018

NEWSLINK: forest dept’s solution to ward off leopards: Carry radio, play music

As panic continues to spread in several villages near Amangarh Tiger Reserve where leopard sightings have become frequent, the forest department has offered a strange solution to end man-animal conflict: Carry radio and play music to keep away big cats.

M Semmaran, divisional forest officer of Bijnor, told TOI, “The leopard is a shy animal and usually leaves when it hears sounds. We have asked villagers to carry a radio or mobile phone with them when they venture out. When they play music, it will drive away any leopard in the area and put an end to man-animal conflict.”

Read more... 

NEWSLINK: Tiger spill-over count alert

As many as a third of Maharashtra’s 204 tigers live outside protected areas, wildlife experts have revealed days after a hunter assisted by forest staff shot dead a tigress that had allegedly killed 13 people in the state since 2016.

“Inside the protected areas, the laws are clear. But because the spill-over population has gone up in the last 10 years, active management is required and robust policies need to be put in place. The same policies will not work,” Anish Andheria, president of the Wildlife Conservation Trust, told The Telegraph from Delhi.

Read more... 

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

NEWSLINK: BBC film crew step in to save the life of a poisoned lion cub

As a poisoned lion cub lies close to death, a team of vets rush to the spot in a dramatic effort to save it.

This is one of the heart-rending scenes that will grip millions of viewers who tune in to BBC1 tonight for the latest episode of Sir David Attenborough’s new series Dynasties.
But viewers will not be told that it was, in fact, members of the film crew who alerted vets.

Read more... 

NEWSLINK: 3 lion cubs found dead near Gir, infighting suspected

The carcasses of three lion cubs were Monday found from the outskirts of a village in Amreli district near the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, Forest department officials said.
Primary investigation has revealed that the three cubs, in the age group of 4 to 5 months, were killed by male lions during infighting between prides to establish dominance, said a statement from the department.

Read more... 

Monday, 26 November 2018

CARL WRITES: 16/11/18 - Coleford, Gloucestershire

Read the original story here.

This is a very interesting report both, in terms of its ideal isolated forest location and Mr Docherty’s good description. Coleford is a small market town west of the Forest of Dean, two miles east of the Welsh border and close to the Wye Valley. As well as its feral boar, this location is well known for anomalous big cat reports, with the forest appearing to be something of a migratory route the animals apparently use when traveling down through Wales into south-western England. Many sightings have been logged in this area of what seem to be large Felids, typically melanistic animals presumed to be black leopards (Panthera pardus) and occasionally faun-grey coloured animals believed to be pumas (Puma concolor), however, there are also a few other reports on file which seem to indicate that a much smaller, but no less exceptional mystery cat species also resides in this ancient woodland.

In 2012, a good friend of mine showed me a photograph he had taken on his mobile phone, in his own private area of woodland in Monmouth (Monmouth is only approximately six miles west of Coleford), of a fresh pugmark left in wet mud next to a small natural pool.

The animal had clearly visited the pool to drink and left an imprint of its front left paw behind in the wet mud. My friend, whom I wont name here, placed a fifty pence coin next to the track to indicate scale, and took a clear photograph of it. The single track was approximately 3 inches in length (8.85 cm), two and a half inches across (6.35 cm) and almost rounded in shape, but showing clear asymmetrical toes with no sign of claw marks. The track was clearly not from any known canid species such as dogs or foxes and seemed to be too large to belong to a domestic cat (Felis catus), and too small to have been made by any of the alleged big cats. At the time I guessed the spoor was probably made by a lynx sized cat. My informant, who is an accomplished outdoorsman and knows his own area of forest well, is very familiar with the local animals that frequent the woods, said he had never seen anything like this track before or since.

I believe Mr Docherty’s report is credible. He clearly witnessed something that wasn’t a fox and probably wasn’t any dog breed either (though it might have been a small deer) and considering the close proximity of the observation to the previous sightings, and the report made to myself back in 2012, seems to indicate that lynx-type cats are indeed living wild within the Forest of Dean to this day.

Frank Tunbridge is quite right in suggesting that in winter months the cats have to travel further afield in pursuit of prey, making the chances of spotting them much greater. As the smaller mammals which they usually feed upon become less in winter months and as the foliage becomes thinner, the cats' presence becomes more obvious. When the first snows arrive would be the most productive time to look for any trace evidence of these animals' presence.

Hopefully Mr Docherty will soon set up some motion sensitive cameras in this area and the mysterious creature[s] return.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

CARL WRITES: Scottish Big Cats Explained

For decades, people across Scotland have consistently reported observing large mysterious black creatures prowling rural areas and quite back lanes. Many critics dismiss such observations as exaggerated reports of domestic cats and/or misidentified dogs, while many eyewitnesses maintain that large exotic felids are indeed stalking Scotland.

As mentioned, most experts maintain it’s extremely unlikely that any breeding takes place in the UK, claiming the animals reported are very likely released (post Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976), or escaped from captivity.

“As of December 2016, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has received twenty seven reports of exotic cats which escaped from private collections since 1975”.

Felicity the Puma

The most famous, verified Scottish case was that of a puma (Puma concolor) named Felicity captured alive in a trap by farmer Ted Nobel at Cannich, near Drumnadrochit by Loch Ness, in 1980. When her capture was reported it sparked a media sensation. Felicity’s capture followed a string of reports which dated back as far as 1976, and local farmers (including Mr Nobel) had also reported livestock mutilations on various occasions until the capture.

Felicity’s case is often claimed to have been a staged event, with reports at the time suggesting she was a tame animal, and that she was previously someone’s pet.

This kind of negative statement altogether misses the point when we admit that the vast majority of British ‘big cat’ reports describe escapees and illegally released animals. A captured puma in the UK is still a captured puma regardless of its provenance, and guarantees that, at least for a while, large non native felids were certainly roaming wild in Britain!

Following her capture, Felicity was taken to The Highland Wildlife Park, where she became a popular tourist attraction until her death in 1985. Finally she was mounted and can still be viewed in the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery.

The Cupar Roe Deer Carcass

On the night of June 16th 2001, Ralph Barnett was driving home from Dundee to Cupar, and when rounding a sharp bend in the road, he switched his headlights to full beam, illuminating a big dark coloured creature in the beams. The mysterious animal quickly leapt away out of sight. As it did, Barnett realised that this cat had been feeding on the carcass of a Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus) which the remains of which were still lying in the middle of the road.

Barnett called the local police who attended the scene “in significant numbers”.

The police decided not to retain the carcass and it was unfortunately dumped at the roadside. Barnett took some excellent photographs however.

The deer in the photographs seems to have been killed by asphyxiation – it showed bulging eyes, open mouth with protruding tongue, and clotted blood pooled on the side of the face, and the eyeballs were ruptured and still relatively moist. There was also a series of sub-parallel lacerations on the side of the neck that closely resembled a large cats claw marks.

The Beast of Banff

2007 saw the so called ‘Beast of Banff’. The creature was described as being “five feet long and three feet high”. It walked across the path of a man who was staying at the Banff Springs Hotel over the holiday period as he was out walking near the hotel on Hogmanay, according to the Banffshire Journal.

The Argyll Panther

PC Chris Swallows, an off-duty Ministry of Defence police dog handler took a video after witnessing ‘a panther-sized big cat’ on a nearby railway line in Helensburgh, Argyll in 2009. This video (which can be easily found on YouTube) shows what is probably a domestic cat filmed on a railway line at a low, deceptive camera angle.

2001, 2008, 2013, and 2015 saw the so called ‘Edzell Panther’. This large cat-like animal was said to be roaming Angus, reported near the A90 near Edzell and Fettercairn Road.

And finally...

More sightings were reported in August (2018) of what was claimed to be a large black cat which has been observed stalking in and around Bonnyrigg in Midlothian in recent years – see CFZ Mystery Cats Study Group 30/08/18.

There clearly has been (and probably still remains) large exotic felids (pumas and leopards?) living wild in the more remote areas of Scotland. The evidence for such creatures is relatively good and I expect there to be further verified cases documented in future.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

CARL WRITES: 20/10/18 - Sinclairston, Ayrshire

Read the original story here.

A local teenager has created a ‘flap’ in Scotland with the creation of his very own ‘big cat’. Robbie Brown created the big cat shaped sculpture with a laser cutter before posting photographs onto social media, fooling many locals residents into believing a large black cat was on the loose.

Mr. Brown, 18, received hundreds of shares with local residents believing the sculpture to be the real thing. One even contacted police to report the sighting.

“I just did it for a laugh... Everyone was talking about the other sightings so I spent ten minutes crafting one out of metal”. Claims Mr. Brown.

“It’s got a crazy reaction on Facebook, and some people thought it was real... Others realised it was fake because the tail was in the same position in every photograph”.

Police initially feared a ‘black panther’ was stalking the wilds near Drongan, Ayrshire after the photographs emerged.

Ian Mitchel 56, who runs an alpacas business at Hannahston Farm, initially feared for the safety of his South American animals which are worth up to £12,000 each.

Even considering the obviously static nature of the sculpture, many local eyewitnesses believed what they were seeing was a genuine ‘big cat’. This story proves that many observers see whatever they want to see, even if what’s being observed is nothing more than a rigid, laser cut model painted black, and typically seen in a single unchanging position.

CARL WRITES: 22/10/18 - Lochnagar, Aberdeenshire

Read the original story here.

Two videos have appeared that seem to show genuine wildcat kittens. Mr. Usher from Edinburgh told BBC Scotland:

“I was going across a boulder field, being quite careful with where I was going because there lots of drops down. Out of the corner of my eye I suddenly saw something move and instinctively thought it was a tail.”

“It was the wee one first that I saw and that gave me time to put down my bag, take out my camera, start filming it and zooming in. It didn’t want to move so it was great”.

“I changed course, going off further to the left to keep well out of their way. I looked round after another ten minutes or so and found that they were still watching me”.

“At the time I thought there were two, but then going back over the footage in slow motion I found a third one just poking out, and there may have been more as well”.

“At the time it didn’t really sink in, and by the time I got home I thought: Wow, that’s actually something special”.

The British race of the European wildcat (Felis silvestris grampia) was at one time found all over the British Isles, but according to popular belief, were exterminated over much of their range during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, and are today totally confined to Scotland.

Wildcats tend to be larger and heavier than domestic cats, although the size range is considerable. The head has distinctly tabby markings, the nose is flesh coloured and the animals have a prominent white throat. The dorsal colouration of the coat is a yellowish-brown/grey, much darker than the ventral side, which is pale.

There is a broad dark-coloured dorsal line made up of longitudinal stripes from which irregular stripes which run onto the stomach.

The tail has several dark coloured, encircling bands, of which only the final two or three count as complete ‘rings’. The tip of the tail is black.

The kittens are usually more distinctively marked than the adults and that for the first few months of their lives their tails are tapered to a point like in domestic cats (Felis catus).

A tabby, striped coat and a bushy tail, with distinctive bands are also found in domestic or feral cats and are therefore not definite wildcat characteristics. Both species often display the traditional ‘M shaped’ markings on the forehead.

Hybridisation with domestic cats has clearly taken place over much of the wildcats geographic range and today it is difficult, if not impossible, to say just which populations have been affected by intragressive cross breeding.

The purity of this species is typically accessed using a 21 point scoring system examining  F. s. grampia physical characteristics.

The most visible kitten on each of the videos looks very promising, with strong nape stripes and a thickened (non tapered) tail.

It has been estimated that there are only between one hundred and three hundred Scottish wildcats alive today, and we are unsure as to whether the English specimens, which undoubtedly existed into historical times, were members of the same (Scottish) sub-species.  

Sunday, 18 November 2018

SIGHTING, UK: Security guard spots big cat while out walking with his domesticated feral cat

While patrolling a site at work with his domesticated feral cat, a man who more likely expected to come across a sounder of wild boar in fact came face to face with a big cat instead.

The big cat sighting happened on November 15 at around midnight near Coleford in the Forest of Dean.

Security guard Clarke Dockerty, 32, has been on the site for a couple of weeks. The previous night he heard a huge commotion on the outskirts of the site and was taken aback when he saw around 10 boar making their way through the wood.


NEWSLINK: 1 mountain lion remains missing following Woolsey fire

All but one of the mountain lions being tracked by the National Park Service in the Santa Monica Mountains have been accounted for in the wake of the Woolsey Fire, as have all four bobcats the agency monitors, officials said.

The only mountain lion still missing as of Friday is dubbed P-74, a young male who was born last year and is the newest lion added to the National Park Service study of big cats in the mountains. Another lion dubbed P-42 was located Friday morning, along with the last of four bobcats in the mountain area.


Wednesday, 14 November 2018

SIGHTING, UK: Big cat 'as big as a Labrador' spotted on Gloucestershire canal path

A man from Brimscombe was left shocked after coming across a 'big cat' on a towpath when he was on his way back from collecting a memory foam mattress on his push bike.

He took the towpath route home and could not quite believe what he saw stood right in front of him.

At first the man thought it was a dog sniffing about in the grass to the left of the path but then it dawned on him.

Read more... 

PHOTO: Lion Sneaks Into Farmer's Home, Relaxes On Heap Of Groundnuts

A farmer in Patla village in Gujarat's Amreli district was greeted with a strange, albeit apprehensive, sight of a lion relaxing on a heap of groundnuts stored in a room in his house.

A video of the lion sprawled on the groundnut heap went viral on social media.
The incident took place in Tulsishyam range of the Gir (east) division Sunday night.
Forest officials said Patla village is located on the edge of the Gir forest, the only abode of the Asiatic lions.

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CARL WRITES: 11/11/18 - Brimscombe, Gloucestershire

Read the original story here.

"I don’t think this is a particularly credible sighting simply because of the constant inconsistencies related during Mr Guillaume Lyons’ interview. One minute the animal was as tall as a Doberman with the build of a Labrador and definitely not a dog, the next he could not observe any clearly observable features.

The accompanying article quotes him as saying it was slim like a Dalmatian.

Next he identifies what he has observed as a lynx, I presume because he does not remember seeing the creatures tail. It seems to me we are talking about a vague silhouette of a dark animal observed briefly under inadequate conditions! If so I think its probably unwise to jump to premature conclusions, there is literally nothing in this report that indicates anything other than it being a large dog or a fox – maybe even a small deer such as a muntjac, which of course have short, almost indistinct tails.

I don’t believe Mr Lyons is being dishonest, I simply feel he probably mistook some other animal for a big cat as it was getting dark along the towpath when he briefly observed the creature and it surprised him. Additionally he is quoted in the GloucestershireLive article describing the trees ahead of him as dark, looking like “silhouettes”.

Most likely a large fox Vulpes vulpes, in fact the shape and the behaviour reported by Mr Lyons are very consistent with a fox."

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

CARL WRITES: 5/11/18 - Staveley, Cumbria

Read the original story here.

There is very likely at least one large felid roaming the south Lakeland area and I have sneaking suspicion where it might have escaped from. South Lakes Safari Zoo is probably the most controversial zoo in Britain. Why, one might ask, is this zoo considered to be so controversial when there are plenty of other unscrupulous establishments throughout the country? Well, its probably down to the unsettling reports that have been appearing since June 2016. Since the zoo’s licence came up for renewal two years ago, government inspectors revealed that 486 animals had died between December 2013 and September 2016, many of them due to living in cruel conditions. South Lakes Safari Zoo had already been in the headlines on 24th May 2013, after Sarah McClay, a 23 year old zookeeper was mauled to death by a Sumatran tiger. The following year the zoo was fined £255,500, not including fees, by the courts for health and safety breaches that lead to her untimely and horrific death.

“In the first six months of 2016, 13 animals died of trauma, three starved, a lemur drowned, and a jaguar chewed off its paw”.

Among the animal deaths were two snow leopard cubs, Miska and Natasja, found partly eaten by other leopards in their enclosure; a rhinoceros crushed to death by its partner; a squirrel monkey died after getting stuck behind a radiator and left there; an African spurred tortoise that had been electrocuted when it became entangled in electric fencing. Poison used to kill rats had also lead to the deaths of at least two unspecified animals and lemurs and many birds had been crushed to death by the zoo’s miniature train. Five Inca terns had died from exposure, an alpaca from hypothermia, a bird had been euthanised after its beak had been broken. Thirteen other animals had died from trauma, and three from starvation. A beautiful jaguar named Saka had chewed off its own paw after damaging it on broken glass and exposed nails.

That same month a report was published, the Captive Animals’ Protection Society visited the zoo and published photographs of an emaciated kangaroo, and penguins suffering in the 29C summer heat in an empty pool.

In August, 2006, an escaped South American goat was recaptured using a tranquiliser dart after wandering into a local garden. The following month, a government inspector said escapes were “a matter for concern” and recommended procedures to prevent animals using an overhead walkway as a means of escape. In 2010, a capuchin monkey escaped for five days and was eventually recaptured in a church; two months later the council renewed the zoo’s licence!

Management of the zoo has now been handed over to a newly formed group, the Cumbria Zoo Company Ltd, who has been running the establishment since January, 2017, and as of 9, May, 2017, Barrow Council voted to grant the company a four year licence, after inspectors gave positive reports of how the zoo appears to have turned things around.

The Zoo’s previous owner during it’s troubles, David Gill, a self-styled wrangler; the type often seen working with tigers and crocodiles on television, or hunting them down on safari, has been accused of animal cruelty before, when in 1997, an extremely rare three tonne white rhino escaped from its enclosure into a car park, fell into a ditch and was unfortunately shot dead. Gill was fined £10,000 by Kendal magistrates court for endangering the public and failing to have adequate barriers.

I would not be at all surprised if this once terribly run zoo might have failed to report an escapee at some point, especially of a potentially dangerous nocturnal animal that would, over time, likely wander far away from the vicinity of the zoo. If a rhinoceros can escape, I’m sure a light-footed leopard could too – the only difference being a leopard would likely not be seen again. I wouldn’t blame the animal in the slightest for wanting to escape this once awful place! Like many zoos, this institution also had a proven record for not being honest when questioned.

When zookeeper, Sarah McClay was mauled to death, her kin were informed that she had died because she had failed to follow protocol and for some unknown reason had walked into the enclosure. Gill told press Sarah had made an unwise and baffling mistake. It took just over three years for the truth to come out at inquest. Sarah was in a staff corridor next to the tiger enclosure when the tiger attacked and mauled her – a bolt on one of the gates was proven to be defective!

However, the report in The Westmorland Gazette does not describe a big cat. In fact it does not really describe anything at all! It is assuming that Vicky Parkinson knows a big cat when she sees one, which unfortunately for our purposes is not sufficient evidence. It would be useful if we could at least ascertain what subject Mrs Parkinson teaches! I mean, if she teaches biology or anatomy we could take her report at face value.

Even the evidence of the two deer running from an unseen predator does not prove there was a large cat in the area, as on many occasions I have personally witnessed deer running thorough woodland, disappearing, and then a few seconds later an average sized domestic dog will come prowling through the same area - obviously in pursuit of the deer.

With the lack of any real details it’s difficult to say whether Mrs Parkinson witnessed a big cat or not!

Thursday, 8 November 2018

SIGHTING, UK: People in Midlothian claim a big cat is stalking the Pentlands

Loch Ness has Nessie, the Himalayas has the Yeti, the United States has Bigfoot, and now Edinburgh has the "Pentlands Puma".

On November 4, a man posted in a Penicuik-based Facebook group to say he'd spotted a big cat that appeared to be around four times the size of a domestic cat. It was pitch black in colour, and he said he thought it could have been a puma.

Unsurprisingly, he got roasted in the comments, with other members of the group suggesting he'd had one too many, that he was joking, or that he'd just seen a perfectly normal cat.

Read more... 

CARL WRITES: 23/10/18 - Stamford, Lincolnshire

Read the original story here.

"It's a great shame that the photograph of the alleged ‘black panther’ prowling a field near Stamford, and that of the close up of the pawprint taken the following day, both photographed by father of four Steve Kelly, are unfortunately ill-defined and thus limited in their value as evidence. Nevertheless the animal in the vague photograph does appear to be a felid but seems to be, going simply by the basic anatomy observable in the photo, of the species Felis catus – the domestic cat.

Mr Kelly said “it moved like a cat and was very graceful. It was Jet Black... I was just taken aback when I saw this creature. It was compelling to watch”.

The cat in the photograph tagged Jet Black Panther (4982922) is without doubt very dark in colour, most likely melanistic, but unfortunately the photo isn’t clear enough to accurately judge the animals dimensions in relation to nearby objects, and I also do not wish to call Mr Kelly’s observational prowess into question, as being an airplane pilot would appear to be more than adequate.

I have to agree with Mr Kelly to a certain extent in that the cat in this image is certainly gracile in appearance, and is therefore most likely, in my opinion, to be nothing more than a relatively large domestic cat. At 200m it would be difficult for anyone to judge it’s size accurately. I think its safe to assume however that this was quite a large cat.

“As it saw us, it started to move very gracefully towards the corner of the field. There was no way I could have chased it and I was just scrambling to get my phone out of my pocket before it disappeared”.

It should also be noted that Mr Kelly had prior interest and belief in the British big cat phenomenon, after his wife, Emily, observed a similar creature when previously living in Ketton, Rutland. Mrs Kelly actually reported her sighting to the local police. This preconceived belief might have had an effect on Mr Kelly’s observation and led him to conclude that the animal he briefly witnessed was larger than it really was. As human beings we tend to see what we want to see, especially when we observe something imperfectly at a great distance!

And then the discovery the following day of the pawprint might have seemed to confirm this opinion!

Unfortunately for us the photograph of the pawprint is also indistinct, although it does seem to indicate a certain symmetry which might suggest it was made by a canid, either a fox, or perhaps more likely a medium sized dog.

He said “this sort of thing really interests me, and I’m thinking of setting up a motion sensor infra-red camera in that area too, so who knows, if I could get a close up photo of whatever it really is, it could solve this completely”.

Mr Kelly even contacted BBC wildlife expert Chris Packham and also contacted a university zoologist to find out more which suggests he is being truthful and is not trying to deceive anybody.

“There is plenty of good food supply available here, with deer, rabbits, sheep, and even domestic cats, which have been reported missing”.

Mr Kelly stated this animal was “much bigger” than his own pets. It would therefore be a very good idea for him to set up motion camera equipment in this area as he suggested. It would also be productive to photograph an object of comparable size in precisely the same location as the cat in the photograph and at the same distance; and to continue to look out for fresh (and therefore hopefully clearer) pawprints. A hair sample can also prove invaluable.

Unfortunately, I think this is a black domestic cat, maybe quite a large one, and the pawprint is probably that of a canid, possibly a dog."