Sunday, 30 September 2018

SIGHTING, UK: Mystery surrounds big cat sighting in Bonnyrigg

More sightings have been made of the mysterious large black cat which has been spotted roaming in and around Bonnyrigg in recent years. One user poster on the Bonnyrigg and Lasswade Residents Forum Facebook page revealing she saw the creature this month in Cockpen Woods sparked dozens of comments from other people claiming to have seen it. The forum’s administrator said: “People who mention it on the page are not the kind of people to make that up.

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SIGHTING, UK: Beast of Cumbria spotted? Creature 'three times larger than normal cat' caught on camera

Charlotte Dawson and her mum Bev were driving near Whitehaven when they were stunned by the sight of "big cat" across a field by the road.

The area is said to be home to the "Beast of Cumbria", reputedly a black panther that rips the heads off local sheep.

According to Charlotte, 31, the creature they saw was at least three times the size of her own cat, which itself is bigger than average.

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NEWSLINK: Big cat spotted in Antigonish County, some claim it's evidence of a cougar presence

The Lands and Forestry Department is going to have a wildlife biologist investigate after a trailcam in Antigonish County captured a picture of an animal some believe to be a cougar.

The picture was posted online at journalist Andrew Macdonald’s site and shows a large cat in a wooded area.

Typically, a trailcam is a camouflaged camera mounted on a tree or other structure and can be triggered by motion in front of it to capture photos of animals in the field.


SIGHTING, R.O.I: Crosshaven cougar: "It walked like a cat but was larger than a labrador"

A local woman in the Crosshaven/Fountainstown area has come forward to say she has also seen the large animal reported by other people in the area in recent days.

Aoife Fitzgerald, aged 40, told the Evening Echo she did not believe the rumours that have been circulating about a cougar or puma on the loose until she laid eyes on the big cat close to Hurleys Woods on her way home from work yesterday evening.

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Thursday, 27 September 2018

ARTICLE: Are big cats really on the prowl in Dorset? This wildlife expert certainly thinks so...

Bournemouth-based wildlife expert Jonathan McGowan is certainly convinced that they are.

He has been studying sightings for most of his life and says he has amassed lots of 'evidence' over the past 30 years including big cat paw prints, faeces, fur samples and territorial tree markings.

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NEWSLINK: After lion, tiger dies in City zoo

The Nandankanan Zoological Park in the City once again hit the headlines for wrong reasons after the death of another big cat on Sunday.

Four days after an African lion died in Nandankanan due to hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE), a 10-year-old old tiger breathed his last in the zoo. 

Nandankanan authorities said the animal was undergoing treatment at the zoo hospital under the supervision of experts from College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry, OUAT since the last six months.


Wednesday, 26 September 2018

NEWSLINK: 64 teams formed to scan lions in Gir for any illness

Days after the death of 11 Asiatic lions, the state Forest Department on Sunday formed 64 teams to screen the entire population of the endangered species in Gir forest and other protected areas to identify any sick big cat and give them medical treatment. The samples of the dead carnivores have also been sent to Pune’s National Institute of Virology to ascertain if any virus caused the death.

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NEWSLINK: Tiger population doubles in Nepal

While the number of tigers in many countries is witnessing a decline, a recent survey led by the Government of Nepal has shown that the population of tigers has almost doubled in under a decade in the country.

According to World Wildlife Fund (WWF), an organisation dealing with wildlife conservation and endangered species, this news can help Nepal become the first country to double its national tiger population since the ambitious TX2, a goal to double tiger numbers in the wild by 2022, was set in 2010.

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Monday, 24 September 2018

CARL WRITES: 30/8/18 - Bonnyrigg, Midlothian

The Bonnyrigg "big cat".

Read the original story here.

The animal photographed by dog walker Paul Dunham, and published in the Edinburgh Evening News (30 August 2018), is of comparable size to a small leopard or puma, and seen standing in close proximity to a streetlamp, appears to be dark in colour, possibly black. Nevertheless, going by what can be seen in the hazy photograph, the general anatomy of the animal in question appears to be that of a canine rather than feline. This is especially emphasised by the presence of a relatively short, and very thickly furred tail; so thick in fact, that the shape of the rear leg is ill-defined from that of the tail in the image, and is too short to belong to either a leopard or a cougar. The latter does typically have a thicker tail; however, assuming the tail is completely visible, and is not turned away slightly and hidden from the view of the camera, it is too short by approximately 15 - 25%.

It does however, closely resemble a large fox, and the apparent dark colouration might also be genuine and not just a trick of the light, as melanistic foxes once had a rich folklore in medieval Britain, and have turned up from time to time both as a naturally occurring, albeit extremely rare mutation, and as hybridised animals bred for dense fur and as exotic pets (see my previous CFZ online article "The Sad Tale of the Black Fox"). Black foxes exist in far greater numbers in North America because they are not hunted so widely, whereas in Britain their pelts were highly prized making the genetic strain much rarer. 

Admittedly, the concave profile of the animal's back does look rather cat-like, but a fox that's just been startled, and is starting to to rise up from a crouched position will similarly arch its back, which I believe makes this feature unreliable here. Moreover, Mr Dunham claimed that "it never looked up or towards [him]", and that his dog was aware, and hyper-cautious of the mysterious animal, just as the animal was likely aware of the presence of his nervous chocolate Labrador. If the animal had stopped and looked directly towards Mr Dunham, I believe we would likely see a pair of large and alert looking pointed ears in the photograph. Moreover, a fox that has just been surprised will likely have its ears flattened back, which might suggest why these potential features are not visible in Mr Dunham's photograph. 

The basic outline of this creature appears to be canine as opposed to feline, and is likely either that of an average sized domestic dog breed or a large dark coloured fox, and the animal in the photograph as mentioned before is standing near (though not directly in) the beam of the streetlamp providing strong evidence that the creature is indeed black. Based on this photograph, if I lived in the area, I would presume that Mr Dunham and some other eyewitnesses might be seeing fleeting glimpses of melanistic foxes and would attempt to provide a testable hair sample. Providing sufficient evidence for melanistic foxes, that validate consistent eyewitness reports of a mysterious black creature, would be equally as relevant to cryptozoology as the discovery of non indigenous big cats, as the black fox (even though we are talking about a mutation as opposed to a new species) is obviously a true British species, and the melanistic mutation has bordered the realms of zoomythology and natural history for centuries. Put simply, the British black fox nearly ticks as many boxes for true cryptozoology as the British ABC phenomena! 

As far as I am aware the last natural black fox (a cub) recorded in Britain was videoed amongst the graves in a churchyard on the outskirts of Chorley in Lancashire in 2008, which is a rather fitting location for a creature stooped in historic superstition.       

I am unaware as to whether the corresponding reports in and around Bonnyrigg also describe a black animal, but wouldn't it be interesting if what was being consistently observed by respectable eyewitnesses was another distinct, and extremely rare mystery animal, almost as rare as mysterious big cats themselves - a true British black fox.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

VIDEO: Close encounter at Taigan Safari Park in Crimea just weeks after woman mauled

A lion at a safari park in Ukraine climbed over tourists and even licked them in the face, just weeks after a woman was mauled at the same attraction.

Remarkable footage showed the untethered lion climbing into an open buggy with tourists - despite a recent attack when one of the predators bit a woman's arm at the Taigan Safari Park in Crimea.

The lion, called Filya, got up close and personal with tourists in the open-sided vehicle - cuddling and even licking one woman in the face.

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NEWSLINK: Tiger scare keeps students off school in Damoh district

Residents of more than half-a-dozen villages in Damoh district are in panic owing to tiger movement in their area. The fear of the tiger is such that more than 200 children living in the fringe area stayed away from school on Saturday. A tiger is being sighted regularly near the villages close to Nauradehi sanctuary.
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Wednesday, 19 September 2018

ARTICLE: The Cougar Sightings

I guess my expectations were too low because, as the sighting kept coming in from more and more counties, it seemed cougars were everywhere. Here are the sightings and counties; Pulaski County (5), Hot Springs County (1), Ashley County (1), Searcy County (1), Cross County (1), Columbia County (2), Lafayette County (3), Ouachita County (1), Van Buren County (1), Yell County (1), Desha County (1), Union County (1), Bradley County (1), Perry County (1), Benton County (2), Montgomery County (1), Polk County (1), Arkansas County (2), and Sebastian County (1). That’s a total of 19 counties with 28 confirmed sightings. Of all the sightings, five were said to be black cougars, and one sighting was a female with two cubs. It’s a little difficult to pinpoint the cougar hot spots, but southwest Arkansas certainly seems to have a breeding population, and as expected, most of the sightings were adjacent to dense timber, usually near major streams.

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NEWSLINK: Hunter Nawab Shafat Ali Khan: Humans and big cats can't co-exist

If Nawab Shafat Ali Khan had his way, he'd build a wall to keep all the tigers and elephants out, and he'd make them pay for it, too, at least figuratively. In an exclusive interview with mid-day, the controversial hunter called Yavatmal's man-eating tigress a terrorist and murderer. He claimed that killing tigers makes him cry, but also said he is perfectly comfortable posing with the body after he has shot it.

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Wednesday, 12 September 2018

NEWSLINK: Test-tube lions raise hopes for rare cats

Two lion cubs have been born through artificial insemination for the first time, raising hopes of a revival for endangered cats.

Researchers from the University of Pretoria in South Africa led the programme, which culminated in the birth of a male and a female last week.

The scientists harvested the sperm of a lion and used it to impregnate a lioness. Three and a half months later, the cubs were born at the Ukutula Conservation Centre.


NEWSLINK: Mountain lion kittens found in Southern California mountains

A litter of blue-eyed mountain lion kittens has been discovered in Southern California’s Santa Monica Mountains, but researchers believe they are the product of inbreeding, a serious problem for the population isolated by a major freeway.

The National Park Service said Tuesday the two males and two females appeared to be in good health when they were checked by biologists, who took tissue samples and placed ear tags on the kittens, now known as P-70, P-71, P-72 and P-73.

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Tuesday, 4 September 2018

SIGHTING? UK: Burton man spots 'big black cat' prowling near Queen's Hospital

A Burton man claims he has seen what he thinks is a 'big cat' - possibly a puma - near Queen's Hospital in Burton.

Tim Statham, 53, was walking his border collie dog early in the morning on Tuesday, August 7, at around 6am, in a field near his Reservoir Road home in the town.

He claims he spotted the 'large cat' while out walking his dog and says he was left gobsmacked.