Friday, 31 May 2019

SIGHTING? UK: Savaged deer carcass found in UK woods sparks big cat fears

A small Brit town has been gripped by panic after a deer carcass was found in Tehidy Woods, Cornwall.

The find has re-ignited fears that big cats may be stalking the area's nature spots, leaving locals terrified and afraid for their much-loved pets.

Walking enthusiast Lynne Norton stumbled upon the brutalised deer while out with her dogs.

Lynne believed that the defenceless dear had not been dead for long when she found the stripped carcass at a beauty spot near Redruth.

Lynne, who took the photos, said she found the "fresh carcass of a deer but stripped quite unusually" - sparking fears that another big cat is on the loose.

Read more... 

NEWSLINK: Thousands of lions are being bred in brutal ‘farms’ to be shot by hunters are slaughtered for Chinese medicine

Thousands of lions are being raised in sickening breeding farms so they can be gunned down by wealthy trophy hunters.

Other big cats are being slaughtered just so their bones can be turned into ‘medicines’ after being sold to dealers in the Far East. 

Operation Simba discovered there are now an estimated 12,000 captive-bred lions in South Africa - outnumbering wild ones by almost four to one. 

The revelations come after a year-long investigation into the callous industry headed by former Tory peer Lord Ashcroft.

His probe discovered some of the lions are even being targeted inside fenced enclosures by wealthy trophy hunters.

Read more... 

SIGHTING, New Zealand: Picton couple claim to have seen elusive black panther

Rumours of a South Island black panther have resurfaced after a sighting on Friday night.

Picton couple Juliearna Kavanagh and Warren Lewis claim they've seen the mystery beast on the prowl near Ward, while driving on State Highway 1.

There have been about 10 reported sightings since the 1990s and MPI aren't ruling out a case of mistaken identity, but Ms Kavanagh, an entrepreneur and hotelier, said she knows what she saw.

"It was a great big thing with a head that was a cat and then a long body... sleek, black and with a very long black tail. It was about the height of my knees, maybe a bit taller than my knees," she said.

"It was in full flight, running about 10 meters from us in the headlights."

Read more... 

SIGHTING, UK: African big cat spotted on the prowl at Carn Brea in Cornwall

A couple were left shocked and mesmerised when they watched what they describe as a big cat prowling near a Cornish landmark last week.

Richard Searby-Bates and his partner Aimee Clark had just got out of their car by the railway line which runs at the bottom of Carn Brea, near Redruth, when they spotted a large wild cat.

Richard told Cornwall Live: “We were visiting the industrial estate and were getting out of the car when I just froze … I had to do a double take. About 20ft away was a cat which I think was about 25 inches from the floor to the ridge of its shoulders.
“It was properly on the prowl.

Read more... 

SIGHTING, UK: Is this a big cat caught on camera in North Wales?

Taking a drone out over North Wales to film the beautiful North Wales scenery is a common event for the Rough Cuts team.

But when they returned home from filming over a quarry in Pentre Halkyn, Flintshire, they were surprised to find a large animal on the footage.

Some have questioned whether it could be a big cat - many of which have been spotted across North Wales. However, some people think it could, in fact, be a dog.

Read more... 

Friday, 10 May 2019

NEWSLINK: Zookeeper lucky to be alive after lion attack near Hanover

A young zookeeper is expected to make a full recovery after being mauled by two lions at the Serengeti Zoo, near Hanover, over the weekend. Reports indicate the man entered the enclosure at feeding time.

The lions had been released from their cages to feed on meat which had been left for them in the centre of a large enclosure.

The boss of the zoo told reporters “it’s a miracle that our young colleague is still alive”.

His colleagues told DPA they were unsure why the 24-year-old man entered the enclosure, although they speculated it could have been to perform a routine fence check.

Read more... 

Thursday, 9 May 2019

CARL WRITES: Pershore Roe Deer Carcass, 2016

Was the 2016 Pershore Roe Deer Carcass Really Predated by a Large Unknown Felid?

Back in 2016, a strange looking roe deer carcass Capreolus capreolus was discovered near the Countrywide warehouse at Defford Mill near Pershore. On Wednesday April 13th, at approximately 2.30pm, I travelled to this location in Worcestershire to view the carcass and request an interview with Mr. Gareth Price; the Site Operations Manager who first discovered and photographed the remains and reported it to the Evesham Journal.

After a brief conversation, Mr. Price pointed me in the general direction of the carcass and then added that Rick Minter; a British big cat researcher based in Gloucestershire, and Bob Lawrence of West Midland Safari and Leisure Park, had both independently visited and inspected the remains a few days previously. I was most surprised when Mr. Price claimed there were actually two eviscerated carcasses; a buck (male) and a doe (female), killed only a few days apart and discovered within the same field. This, along with the alleged broken neck, at least at first seemed promising. Mr. Price also claimed Mr. Minter had apparently already verified the buck carcass was the work of a large predatory Felid. Mr. Lawrence, on the other hand, does not believe there is any evidence of big cat activity.

The Evesham Journal had previously reported the roe deer carcass photographed by Mr. Price had a broken neck, and that it was probably the work of a big cat that is alleged to stalk the area. Upon further examination however, one of the first things I discovered was there was absolutely no evidence whatsoever of any damage to the cervical vertebrae on either carcass. The buck’s head and neck, published in the Evesham Journal, was completely turned around and facing the opposite direction; this does not necessarily indicate a break as all deer easily articulate in this manner when looking out for predators. The doe however, which was positioned about twenty feet from the road (not the buck as was previously implied by the media) did have one completely severed lumbar vertebrae!

By now both carcasses had been ‘hollowed out’ in the typical fashion with their stomachs exposed, and displayed several chewed rib bones and the contents of the rib cage were also missing. The small stomach and small intestine, along with all the surrounding tissues had been completely eaten away and it was quite obvious by now both carcasses had been dragged about post-mortem by scavengers; probably foxes, and very likely people. By the time I arrived, almost a week had passed since the newspaper report and decomposition had by now firmly set in, and one must admit additional positive evidence may have been lost during this time.

While checking for the alleged broken cervical vertebrae I found no puncture or slash marks on either deer to indicate a predatory attack, however the doe had considerable mutilation to her upper cranium exposing the frontal bone and no external ears were present; one might reasonably speculate that these might have been rasped off by a cat’s tongue; however, upon viewing the carcass it looked more like they had been torn away, probably by a fox as opposed to the prolonged licking of a cat’s papillae!

I found the spoor of many Canids, such as domestic dogs and foxes in the vicinity of the carcasses, but also found a limited number of tracks that appeared to be vaguely feline in appearance; being proportionately broad, asymmetrical with no visible claw marks, with longish oval toe pads.  (See CFZ Yearbook, 2016)

Unfortunately the posterior edge of the plantar pad was indistinct and did not come out clearly in any of the photographs. However, considering the variation displayed in the spoor of different dog breeds, and also taking into consideration the soil density of the location due to recent weather conditions, it’s quite possible these were large dog tracks and not feline at all.

Domestic dog spoor varies greatly in both size and shape between breeds, for example:

  • German Shepherd: Length = 9.4 – 10 cm, Width = 9.4 cm.
  • Beagle: Length 6.9 cm, Width 5.6 cm.
  • West Highland Terrier: Length 3.75 cm, Width 3.1 cm.

Both carcasses had solid necks showing absolutely no sign of damage to the cervical vertebrae, if there had been damaged cervical neck vertebra that I somehow missed, there was nothing to suggest that it was caused by a large predator, as just outside the field the road cambers upwards either side of the gateway, creating blind spots from both directions which could easily have caused the deaths of both the deer.

This area outside the gateway would potentially be a highly dangerous location for many unsuspecting wild animals as they wouldn’t acknowledge the danger of any approaching vehicles until the headlights were directly upon them, and by then it would likely be too late. Under the gateway leading into the field is a large opening through which a determined fox could potentially drag a carcass killed on the road into the field, away from traffic for consumption, however considering I found no evidence of cervical damage this scenario is quite unnecessary as the deer, after being hit, quite likely made their own way into the field to die and were then later scavenged upon.

I also found several scratch marks and dried grass on a fence post that I initially thought may have been left by a large Felid crossing from the road over into the field, though upon further examination it seemed more likely this was actually caused by human activity as the post is positioned exactly halfway between the two carcasses on approach to the location. Anyone who wished to enter the field to view the carcasses but didn’t want to walk round to the gateway would have probably crossed the fence exactly in that area.

Data Collected:

I photographed the carcasses and the spoor. I also took swabs for DNA analysis from the head, neck and rib cages of both carcasses and collected an unusual looking faecal sample found in close proximity to the buck. Apart from some sheep wool and horse hairs snagged on a barbed wire fence close by, I unfortunately found no unidentifiable hair samples for morphology.

Positive evidence might be the exposed frontal bone - that may had been caused by the rough rasping papillae from a Felid, but more likely, going by the appearance of the trauma, was torn off by a known scavenger. However, the spoor discovered may be considered as having feline characteristics.

The lower abdominal cavities consumed; probably by known scavengers and the broad, clawless, asymmetrical spoor discovered, damage to the hind limbs that were probably caused post-mortem by scavengers, and the severed lumber vertebrae can all be considered neutral evidence.

The negative evidence is the undamaged cervical vertebrae, no puncture or slash marks found around the neck with little or no hairs missing, and the dangerous location in terms of animal-vehicle collisions. No further physical evidence of feline activities.


Apart from the spoor (see CFZ Yearbook, 2016), which could have also been produced by a large unspecified dog breed, and the exposed frontal bone of the roe’s skull, it seems plausible these carcasses were both the result of road collisions and the other injuries were probably post-mortem caused by known local wildlife. I think we can be fairly confident about this, however I did collect biological samples to be tested if considered necessary at a later date.

There is plenty of evidence to suggest non native Felids such as leopards Panthera pardus, pumas Puma concolor, lynxes Lynx sp., jungle cats Felis chaus and leopard cats Prionailurus bengalensis etc. are, or at least have been, roaming the wilds of Britain in recent times, though unfortunately this particular case of the Pershore Roe Deer Carcass was likely a red herring!    

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

CARL WRITES: 5/4/19 - Harrowbarrow, Cornwall

Read the original stories here and here.

"So what’s killing pet cats, mauled a large dog; chasing the owner indoors, and decimating local deer populations in and around the Cornish village of Harrowbarrow?

James Stephenson, 23, from Harrowbarrow claims he witnessed his beloved Labrador Marley “taken down” as the pet roamed his one acre garden in Cornwall.

James said:

“Marley was walking the far end [of the grounds] at night and I was about twenty feet from him when he was suddenly taken down to the floor as if his legs had given way”.
Marley was covered in blood and had a deep injury on his front leg and another between his toes on his front paw.

“On his left shoulder was a big black mark, as if a muddy claw had scrapped down his side” James regrettably commented.
The mysterious animal was observed two nights later while James was patrolling the property with the aid of a powerful torch.

The RSPCA commented that the mystery predator had likely caught some prey and was eating it in James’s garden and that’s why the animal attacked Marley.

James said:

“I shouted to it and was waving my arms around to scare it off but it started to run towards me. I quickly got back inside. It was very scary”.

James’s other dog, a collie puppy named Maisy, is now also extremely nervous in the garden after dark.

One of James’s neighbours commented that there was once lots of deer in the surrounding fields, yet, there hasn’t been any for four or five months, and a local farmer claimed to have discovered a strange looking den in a patch of undisturbed woodland.

Local resident Shane Pridham, 46, believes his black domestic cat Jasper fell prey to the mysterious predator last month.

Police commented:

“We have received a single report of a big cat sighting. We took a cast of a print which the RSPCA confirmed was the pad of a large cat.”

I cannot independently confirm that the spoor in the photograph is that of a large predatory felid as the imposed dotted outline provided by the newspaper hides much of its detail, however, I will say it’s a reasonable size and the toes seem to be aligned in the expected manner. It is difficult to be certain however.

I would seriously suggest someone investigate the local woodland described and place a motion activated night vision camera in the vicinity, and also to look out for any other evidence such as fresh spoor or biological samples near the alleged den.

Unfortunately, now this report has been linked with footage taken five days later by Becky Abrey, 28, at Praa Sands of what is undoubtedly nothing more than a dark domestic cat – 100%. This second video probably has nothing to do with the attack on James’s Labrador in Harrowbarrow.

So what about James Stephenson’s original report? Well, I suppose it is entirely possible that he did actually witness a genuine attack by a large non native felid in the grounds of his family property, but without further corresponding evidence this is very difficult to ascertain.
The best thing to do now is for someone (preferably qualified) to look out for any corresponding evidence from the area such as the undisturbed woodland described by James’s neighbour and to collect, label, and date any data for future investigations.

I would expect more eyewitness reports over the next few weeks before the animal moves on!"