Tuesday, 18 February 2020

NEWSLINK: Maharashtra tops in human deaths in tiger attacks

In a surprising development, Maharashtra has registered highest number of human deaths – 74 – in tiger attacks over a period between 2014 and 2019, reveals the data tabled in Parliament by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The data further stated that total 275 human deaths resulted in conflict with the big cat in the same period across the country. Besides, Maharashtra, West Bengal had registered the same numbers of deaths as victims of tigers. Uttar Pradesh with 49, Madhya Pradesh with 38 and Uttarakhand with 10 deaths follow the two states.

Speaking to Nagpur Today, Nitin Kakodkar, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Wildlife disclosed various relating and preventive measures between these conflicts.

“Dependence of people on the forest, primarily for firewood, is the key factor of such incidents. These conflicts are mostly occurred in Chandrapur district. Most of the people living in the tiger infested areas, earn their livelihood owing to forests. So despite our awareness drive and high level monitoring to make locals aware about certain rules to be followed when tiger along with cubs is around, such conflicts occur,” said the PCCF.

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COMMENTARY: Looking for Sri Lanka's Charismatic Big Cat

In recent years, leopards in Sri Lanka (Panthera pardus kotiya), an endangered subspecies native to the island, have been grabbing local and international headlines for all the wrong reasons.

At the end of last year an adult male leopard was found dead and mutilated at Uda Walawe National Park. The killers had allegedly targeted it for its teeth and claws, which are prized items on the black market. A year ago this month, a leopard was found dead in a trap near a tea plantation. In July 2018, an adult female and two juvenile leopards were found dead from eating a poisoned cow carcass in the Nilgala Forest Reserve; and a month earlier, a mob beat to death a leopard that had strayed into a village.

The animal’s population is dwindling, standing at an estimated 1,000 today, and its habitats are shrinking even as the number of threats to its survival grows. Despite its protected status, both nationally and globally, the leopard is becoming increasingly threatened, and the recent killings highlight the intensifying human-wildlife conflict that extends to leopards in Sri Lanka.

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NEWSLINK: Mountain lion spotted in Simi Valley backyard is captured and relocated

A female mountain lion spotted in Simi Valley was captured and relocated to a more suitable habitat over the weekend, wildlife officials said.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife tracked the roughly 90-pound cat after it was seen in a tree in a backyard in the 600 block of Laguna Drive on Saturday.
“We darted it in one yard,” Fish and Wildlife spokesman Tim Daly said in an email Monday. “It ran into another yard before the drugs took effect.”

After being tranquilized, the approximately 3-year-old cougar was tagged and released outside the city.

The mountain lion was initially spotted around 9:20 a.m., prompting the Simi Valley Police Department to issue a temporary warning to residents to keep children and small animals indoors. No people or pets were harmed, officials said.

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SIGHTING, AUSTRALIA: Mysterious paw print on a remote dirt track in the Blue Mountains sparks fears a 'panther-like creature' is on the loose

A mysterious paw print found on a dirt track in the Australian bush has led many to believe big cats are roaming the area.

Four large paw prints were found on a trail in Leura, in New South Wales's Blue Mountains on Sunday.

Blue Mountains resident Kobe Bryant was running through the bush when he spotted the human hand-sized paw prints in the dirt.

He shared footage of his hand next to the paw prints to his Instagram page, sparking dozens of comments from people speculating where they came from.

Some suggested a wallaby, while others believed it could have been from the mythical black panther.

Mr Bryant said that due to the recent rainfall the track was untouched.

'I thought how nice it was to be on a track with no human footprints,' Mr Bryant told Daily Mail Australia.

'We rounded the corner and I nearly fell on it because I was trying not to step on it.'

He said the tracks were each as big as his hand and ruled out the possibility of a dog because they aren't allowed in national parks.

The group decided to show the footprints to a member from the Hunting and Shooting Association who strongly believed they belonged to a big cat.

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CONSERVATION: Why the Death of Mountain Lion P-56 Matters

On Monday, the National Park Service announced a significant loss to a small group of mountain lions in California’s Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. P-56, an adult male cat, was killed by a local landowner under the state’s new depredation law. He was presumed to be the father of several other animals who are part of a group the NPS has been tracking for nearly 20 years.

“The loss of a breeding male is a concern for the study, especially when the population is already very small,” Jeff Sikich, the park service’s lead field biologist for the project, said in a press release.

Other conservationists were more blunt. “We are in a dire situation,” says Beth Pratt, the leader of the Save L.A. Cougars campaign and regional executive director at the National Wildlife Federation. “P-56 was one of only two known, or collared, males within the region, and we just took him out. What if the other male gets hit by a car tomorrow?”

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VIDEO: Bobcat Poses For The Camera At Peninsula Home

Most wild animal sightings are fleeting; a doorbell camera rarely captures more than a second or two of footage before the visitor slinks out of the frame.

Not so for this bold bobcat, which recently stopped by a home in the Los Altos Hills and lingered in front of the camera long enough to let us see the spots on its fur, as seen on video on the Neighbors app.

Video shows the big cat walking slowly to the center of the frame and pausing before continuing on to the right and out of view.

Residents in the Los Altos area have welcomed quite a few big cats into their backyards in recent months, including multiple mountain lion sightings.

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NEWSLINK: California mountain lion killed after state issues permit

A Southern California mountain lion tracked by scientists as part of a federal study was killed after state wildlife officials issued a permit to a rural property owner whose livestock was repeatedly attacked, officials said Monday.

The male cougar dubbed P-56 was suspected of feasting on animals at a property in Camarillo, within the Santa Monica Mountains northwest of Los Angeles. The owner reported nine depredation incidents resulting in the loss of 12 animals over a two-year period.

National Park Service biologists said they were informed that P-56 was killed on Jan. 27.

It’s the first time the Department of Fish and Wildlife granted permission to kill a big cat in the Santa Monica Mountains under California’s depredation law, officials said.

Hunting mountain lions is illegal in California, but the state may issue property owners permits to kill any big cats that have killed or injured domestic animals or damaged property.

P-56, estimated to be about 5 years old, had been tracked via radio collar since 2017 by researchers studying how the animals survive as urban areas encroach into wildland.

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Sunday, 16 February 2020

NEWSLINK: Mountain Lion Returns To Peninsula Home

For the fourth time in recent months, a mountain lion was filmed creeping through the same Peninsula backyard, seen on the Neighbors app.

Mountain lion sightings are a rarity for most people, but they're becoming almost routine at one Los Altos Hills home.

Video on the Neighbors app shows a mountain lion creeping through the home's backyard — the fourth such visit its residents have had since October, according to the video's uploader.

Footage of the new visit is nearly identical to a similar incident in December: the big cat can be seen walking to the middle of the yard, seemingly triggering a motion-activated light, before continuing on into the bushes and out of sight.

The Los Altos area has had numerous brushes with mountain lions in recent months: in November, a sighting shut down several hiking trails in Rancho San Antonio Preserve.

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Tuesday, 11 February 2020

CARL WRITES: Latest from Bodmin

See the story here.

Over the years, many fleeting glimpses of mysterious dark shapes described by eyewitnesses as ”big cats”, and sets of ominous looking paw prints have fuelled the theory that the famous Beast of Bodmin (or rather its descendants) might still be out there stalking the desolate shadows of Bodmin Moor and the surrounding areas of rural Cornwall.

The “beast” whatever it is, was first made public in 1983 (though reports appear to begin in 1978) and ever since sightings of the creature have been reported.

The latest report: (published on Facebook)

“Driving home tonight and a huge, what I thought was, a black dog ran out in front of my car near the Fowey cross turning. I had to brake hard not to hit it, but now [I am] thinking it might be a black panther as it had a huge tail and long legs, [that were?] very muscular.”

The eyewitness, who is not identified in the Cornwall Live article, then added:

“How I didn’t hit it, I’ll never know.”

“[There were] Lots of cars in front and behind me so [I would] like to know if they saw it too.”

“It was so quick too.”

Fowey (pronounced ‘Foy) might be familiar, as this is the town where, in 1995, a boy walking by the River Fowey discovered a large cat skull. The skull, which measured about 10 cm (4 inches) long by 18 cm (7 inches) wide, possessed two sharp prominent canines. There was, as might be expected, no lower jaw attached and minimal decay present.

The skull was sent to the Natural History Museum in London for verification, where it was quickly determined that it was in fact from of a young male leopard, however, unfortunately for those of interested in such things, one that had not died in Britain and had likely been imported as part of a leopard-skin rug. The back of the skull was cleanly cut off in a way that is commonly used by taxidermists when mounting the head on a rug, and there was also an egg case inside the skull that had been laid by a tropical cockroach not found in the UK.

This all happened less than a week after a dismissive government report was published, keeping the beast, whether it existed as a flesh and blood reality or not, very much in the public imagination.

Anyway, back to Feb 2020.

In this report’s favour, the witness admitted that when first spotted, she initially believed the animal to be a large black dog, and only after looking again thought its long tail and muscular legs reminded her more of a large cat. This might suggest an observant and rational individual who changed her initial identification only when she had a better view of the animal.

Unfortunately this is where the favours end. There is very little that can be determined from this report, other than the creature was a large, dark coloured (possibly black), quadrupedal mammal with a long tail. The witness herself says that “It was so quick too”, suggesting that the animal shot past at breakneck speed and unfortunately; going by the ambiguous features reported, one likely not inducive to positive identification when combined with the speed of the car and the initial shock of the encounter, in which she almost collided with the animal.

Despite this, I personally think it is possible that the witness could have had a fleeting encounter with a genuine big cat, as I’m almost convinced, that small populations leopards and pumas have at least in the past, been moving (and greatly avoiding the other species) continually between Cornwall and Devon; possibly even breeding. (Not together. Personally I find the theory of natural hybridising between these species in Britain to be, at best, unlikely!)

It is interesting to note that there were other vehicles in front and behind the eyewitness’s car that, with a little luck, might have also caught a glimpse of the mysterious animal and come forward, providing more much needed data. Further corresponding reports would be invaluable at this point, as on its own, very little can be deduced by this latest observation. Not even what species we might be dealing with.

Sometimes regional legends travel farther than the transient animals themselves; encouraging misidentifications and potential hoaxes, making it all the more difficult to determine how many of these animals could potentially exist in Britain, and to predict regular territories and potential target breeding areas. So far, we are basically limited to testimonial evidence (e.g Mr or Mrs so and so saw a female panther and two smaller cubs while walking the dogs the other week – that sort of thing.), which unfortunately, no matter how credible, can never be used as definitive evidence to prove these animals are living in a wild state in Britain, let alone predicting regular breeding territories.

In the absence of any corroborating evidence and the ambiguity of the latest description, at this time, I think it’s reasonable to suggest that this report is most likely a genuine misidentification of some other known species; one briefly and inadequately observed through car headlights at night.

However, if further reports do come forth (such as more from the same area over the next few months, or better still from the other vehicles occupants mentioned in this report), or preferably something tangible, like signs of depredation in the area not clearly attributable to known British carnivores, or the collection of any biological samples, I would be completely prepared, like any good researcher, to re-evaluate this report, though at this time I think it’s best described as inconclusive. More data needed.

NEWSLINK: ‘Mismanaged’ Goa turning into death-trap for big cats

The report was commissioned by the Union Ministry for Environment and Forests after four tigers were poisoned in January. The report stated that in view of the unfortunate incident in which four tigers, the state government should undertake urgent action for upgrading the legal status of ‘Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary to a tiger reserve. It said that by upgrading the legal status to a tiger reserve, the protected will get access to monitoring, financial and technical support from NTCA, in order to safeguard the conservation values of the sanctuary.Tribals poisoned tigers

The team that was commissioned by the Union Ministry for investigating the death of four tigers found out that the big cats were poisoned by four persons, all tribal residents of the sanctuary. The four accused have been arrested by the police.

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NEWSLINK: Uttar Pradesh Government to Open Five Leopard Rescue Centres to Curb Leopard-Human Conflict

The Uttar Pradesh state government has initiated a 'Project Leopard' to deal with the growing population of the big cat and the increasing incidents of man-animal conflict within the state.

According to official sources, the Yogi Adityanath government has decided to set up five leopard rescue centres in Meerut, Pilibhit, Chitrakoot, Etawah, and Gorakhpur. The first of these five rescue centres will be opened in the Etawah Lion Safari, and permission for the same has already been obtained by the Central Zoo Authority.

A forest official involved in preparing the blueprint for the project said: "Whenever a leopard is caught, there is a problem of keeping it in a safe place. The zoos in Lucknow and Kanpur are already overcrowded and we have no choice but to release the big cat in the forest from where it invariably comes back to the villages to hunt."

The leopard population in Uttar Pradesh, according to the 2018 census, stood at 415. But wildlife experts now claim that the population may have crossed the 600 mark.

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NEWSLINK: Supreme Court’s nod to reintroduce cheetahs in India raises more questions than hope

If any wildlife enthusiast is starting to visualise the possibility of spotting the sleek cheetah roaming free—once again—in the dry mosaic of scrub or dry grasslands in India, think again. It is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

And this is not because the government or state governments and the wildlife machinery in India are not keen or able.

The Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus), a subspecies of the African cheetah, was found in India till British colonial rule. It was believed to have been last sighted in what is now Chhattisgarh in 1951 but was officially declared extinct in India a year later.

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Tuesday, 4 February 2020

NEWSLINK: Saudi patrol catches Yemeni smugglers with cheetahs

Saudi security officials have thwarted an attempt by Yemeni smugglers to sneak three cheetahs into the Kingdom hidden in rice bags.

A patrol in Jazan found the animals concealed in burlap sacks after intercepting the smugglers near the border with Yemen.

According to sources, the big cats were taken into the care of the Saudi Wildlife Authority and transferred to a reserve by specialized teams.

Dr. Ahmad Al-Bouq, the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture’s environmental adviser, said: “The smuggled cheetahs came from Africa, where South African, royal and other kinds of cheetah can be found.”

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NEWSLINK: Big cat attacks three people in Maharashtra's Bhandara district

In a shocking video that has been making rounds on social media, a tiger was seen attacking a human settlement across a road in Bhandara district of Maharashtra on Saturday, January 25. As per the video shared by the news agency ANI, the tiger reportedly hurt three people during the faceoff. The Bhandara district of Vidarbha region houses a wildlife sanctuary which is home to several tigers.

The location where the attack took place had a road running through the middle of two fields. Seemingly, the crowd on one side of the road halt after seeing the tiger. The wild cat jumps out of one field and crosses the road to go to the field on the other side. Amidst this, people can be heard shouting around the scene. The scared tiger then launches an attack against the people standing on the field and as the people around start throwing stones at the animal, the wild cat runs away.

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NEWSLINK: Craig Pittman’s Cat Tale captures the Florida panther’s extinction scare

If you are very lucky, and you are not a toy poodle or a deer, and if you spend any time at all in the Florida outdoors, you may be in for a treat some day soon: the sight of a panther in its natural element.

By his reckoning, Tampa Bay Times reporter Craig Pittman has laid eyes on Florida panthers exactly three times. “The first one I ever saw was dead, run down by a speeding vehicle on Interstate 4, closer to Walt Disney World than to the place where panthers normally are found,” he writes in Cat Tale. The second was in a roadside zoo, and the third was a taxidermic specimen in the State Archives in Tallahassee — a specimen that plays an important part in his narrative.

“That’s three more panthers than most Floridians have ever seen,” Pittman reckons, even if only one of the cats was actually alive.

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SIGHTING, UK: Big 'black cat' sighting sparks Beast of Bodmin rumours

It had a huge tail and disappeared in the blink of an eye.

A dark mysterious creature ran across a country lane last night, prompting some to question whether the legendary 'Beast of Bodmin' is on the prowl.

Reports of big cats roaming around Cornwall are nothing new, with hundreds of sightings recorded over the years.

This latest feral feline was spotted near Fowey.

One woman posted on a Facebook community page yesterday evening saying a large dark animal ran out in front of her.

She said: "Driving home tonight and a huge, what I thought was, a black dog ran out in front of my car near the Fowey cross turning. I had to brake hard not to hit it but now thinking it might be a black panther as it had a huge tail and long legs, very muscular."

She added: "How I didn’t hit it I’ll never know. Lots of cars in front and behind me so like to know if they saw it too.
"It was so quick too."

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NEWSLINK: With 38 trapped in 10 years, Vareli farm turns into leopard sanctuary

If you count the number of leopards caught here, this orchard in Vareli village is enough to host a mini leopard safari in Mandvi taluka of Surat district. It isn't so, rues owner Sohel Shaikh, from whose farm the 38th big cat was trapped on Thursday, thereby, breaking its own previous record in the past 10 years.

Vareli is the same village where a leopard was shot by the forest department in 2011 on suspicion of it turning into a man-eater. Shaikh, 24, who manages the farm, lived at his farm at night to ensure crop security besides farm infrastructure. But not any more. He started satying at his home in Vareli at night since the past four years after he spotted eight leopards prowling on his farm in one single night.

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NEWSLINK: Midcoast woman thinks she saw a mountain lion

Mainers have been arguing for decades about mountain lions — also called cougars, pumas and catamounts — with some saying they don’t live here, and others saying they’ve seen them.

Back in 2011, a cougar roamed all the way from South Dakota to Connecticut — DNA in its scat was used to identify it as the same cat — before it died after being hit by a car. That incident prompted many to reevaluate their thoughts on mountain lions in Maine. If the cats could get as far as southern New England, why not assume they could make it all the way to the Pine Tree State?

Joanie Rhoda, who lives in the Knox County town of Washington, is among those who now think they’ve spotted a cougar right here in Maine.

Rhoda said that on Dec. 31, she was walking on a snow-covered dirt road with her border collie, Denali. A truck pulled up alongside her, and she stopped to chat with the neighbor driving it.

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CARL WRITES: Gloucester Big Cat Sightings

Read the original story here.

The big cats most commonly witnessed and reported in the UK generally are the black leopard and puma varieties. Eyewitnesses usually describe them about the size of a female Labrador with a long sleek body and long swooping ‘hooked’ tail. The biggest issue I have with the British big cat phenomenon is the sheer volume of reports, and the unfortunate and undeniable lack of solid evidence to back them up. The media, and some so called experts, would have us believe that there are literally thousands of these animals, and that they can be found thriving in almost every county; not just in England, but all of mainland Britain.
The number one species reported is the black leopard (Panthera pardus), commonly referred to as the panther, yet it’s difficult to ignore that this species actually has the least evidence in its favour, except of course, when it comes to testimonial data, which is obviously plentiful. So what’s going on? Can it really be that we somehow have thousands of these animals living in a wild state in Britain, yet somehow, without them leaving any strong evidence of their uninterrupted presence?
In my view the solution is quite simple. They actually are here; there is as it happens sufficient evidence for them (both P. pardus and Puma concolor), but nowhere near enough to suggest the kinds of numbers that are usually claimed. I expect, and this is simply an estimation based on probabilities, that there are probably somewhere between 50 and 150 leopards and pumas living wild in Britain at the present time (though probably closer to 100), and, despite suggestions to the contrary, it’s not high numbers responsible for the widespread reports, but the enormous territorial ranges both species occupy, especially pumas, which, as a species, have the largest range of any wild terrestrial animal in the Americas, spanning 110 degrees of latitude, from northern Yukon in Canada to the southern Andes.
In the national parks of Kenya we would expect to find a leopard in every 10 km2 of territory, however, in the UK, it’s going to be something more like 1 in 500 km2. This makes the chances of finding one in Britain very slim indeed, and perfectly suits why their existence is still unproven.

It’s also safe to assume that quite a few reports are down to simple honest misidentifications on the part of the witnesses. A fleeting glimpse of a dark coloured animal in a layby, or along a dark wooded path, does not constitute viable evidence in itself, not in the eyes of scientists. And then, of course, we can’t ignore the inevitable hoaxes which also come in, often unnoticed, and fairly frequently.
Sherlock Holmes, the greatest fictional detective, once said…
“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

So what evidence remains here once we have “eliminated the impossible”? Or in this case, the highly unlikely? Other than testimonial, the evidence is admittedly rather limited. The strongest evidence for leopards in Britain thus far are biological samples. One example being the hairs discovered in 2010, from Huddisford Woods in Rural North Devon, which were positively identified using morphological techniques as belonging to the sub-Saharan variety of leopard (Thomas Et al.).
So, what about the puma? Well, pumas (P. concolor) actually have far better evidence for their presence in Britain, at least in the past anyway. Felicity the puma is often cited as evidence that there are non-native cats at large in the UK. Others, however, believe that her capture was a staged event. What’s almost certain is that she was a pet who had been released recently as she was quite tame. After her capture, she was kept at the Highland Wildlife Park where she became quite the celebrity. When she died in 1985, she was preserved by a taxidermist and can still be viewed in the Inverness museum and art gallery. Ignoring this case as evidence completely misses the point, as in my opinion, as many of these animals, such as Felicity, are either escapees or illegal releases. I am not suggesting that breeding has never occurred, quite the contrary in fact, but British populations are unlikely to be predominantly sustained in this way. The recent case of a panther seen prowling the rooftops of a northern French town is a good example of how these big cats can potentially end up wild if they are not recaptured quickly. Most are illegal pets, purchased by irresponsible owners, which then get dumped or escape from inadequate enclosures and survive in a wild state.

Although not conclusive, there are reports that in 1993, another puma was captured in Scotland, this time in the Aviemore area.

The so called ‘big cat’ with the best physical evidence for its existence is arguably the lynx (Lynx sp.)

In the summer of 1991, a Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) was shot by a farmer near Beccles, Suffolk, after it had killed roughly fifteen sheep over a period of about two weeks. After spending a short time in the farmer’s freezer it was sold on to a local game dealer, who then had it preserved by a taxidermist and sold it on to a local collector, who now apparently has it on display at his home. Hi quality pictures exist of this unfortunate animal.

A lynx was shot dead by an RUC marksman near the village of Fintona, Northern Ireland on the 18th of February, 1996. The shooting followed days of reports of a ‘young lion’ in the area. The lynx was believed to have escaped from a private collection. Its corpse was also supposedly stuffed and placed in the R. U. C. museum.

A lynx was captured in London in 2001 after a witness report of a leopard sat on a garden wall. The lynx was captured alive after being sedated by a vet with a dart and blowpipe. The lynx, a female, was taken to London Zoo where she was treated for a paw injury. She was later given the name Lara the Lynx.

A lynx (probably a Canadian lynx Lynx canadensis) was discovered by Dr Max Blake, then a PhD student at the Institute of Biological, Environmental, and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University. The discovery provides further evidence for debunking the popular theory that species such as the lynx, only entered the UK countryside following the introduction of the 1976 Dangerous Wild Animals Act. Feral lynx may have been living in the wilds of Britain much earlier, through escapees and deliberate releases.

A 2006 a lynx was recorded on CCTV roaming the industrial area in Evesham, Worcestershire. A security guard at Unipart in Shinehill Lane, Evesham, said he spotted the animal, and that it was the third such sighting he has witnessed on the premises.

Lilith the Lynx, who escaped from Borth Wild Animal Kingdom in 2017 and was subsequently shot dead, was linked (probably erroneously) to the killing of eight sheep on the farmland neighbouring the zoo.

Compared with the large territories of both leopards and pumas, the range of a wild lynx can be as little as 20km2.

Last month (Dec 2019), while searching for wild boar in the Forest of Dean, Gloustershire (526.3 km2), my friend’s ten year old son Monty Bell Jr (MJ) discovered this print (See photos) while we were searching for boar tracks. MJ wasn’t entirely sure what he’d found but noticed quite rightly that it was unlike a dog as there were no claw marks present. Even though the absence of claw marks is not conclusive, MJ, who is a brilliant young naturalist, spotted the unusual print, which he immediately showed me. Other than the lack of claw marks evident in the spoor, I could see straight away that it probably belongs to a medium-sized felid species. This is particularly interesting as about five years ago, a forestry worker, whom I’m also good friends with, photographed on his mobile phone a very similar spoor approximately a mile away from where MJ found his track. These two locations are on opposite sides of the River Wye. The asymmetrical shape of the print, along with the lack of claw marks, and what appears to be a large three lobed plantar pad (the rear pad) all indicated to me a felid of medium size.

We had no plaster with us to make a cast, so we photographed the spoor from multiple angles and placed two straight twigs, one between the first and second toes, and another between the third and fourth toes. This is a great method, as this can only be done perfectly on a symmetrical print such as a those of the canids. Here we can clearly see the asymmetrical nature of the spoor. There was actually a definite canid print positioned slightly to the right of MJ’s find, again clearly showing various differences. At this time we are not going to reveal the exact location where MJ found the print, as I intend to write a more thorough article very soon providing further details. I sent the photographs to several specialists and zoologists, and to date, only one has claimed it belonged to a dog, and even this individual (whom I shall not name publicly) initially believed it to belong to a cat, that is until I revealed the location where the print was found. This so called expert then backtracked and mooted instead for a canid ID. Healthy dog’s tracks are always symmetrical. If this had been made by a dog, the two twigs (I call this the X test), would sit neatly between the first and second toes, and the third and fourth toes without touching either side of the plantar pad. MJs discovery, in my opinion, is highly unlikely to be that of a dog.

I presume that someone has been continually releasing lynx (or at least lynx-sized felids of unknown species) into the Forest of Dean for at least the last five years, possibly longer. The lynx, with its minimal range requirements, smaller size, illusive solitary natures, and crepuscular hunting habits, would be one of the best species (or even groups of species) to survive unnoticed in the forest.

It is, in my opinion, completely possible, that almost any of the known lynx species could potentially thrive in small isolated, yet functional breeding populations within the Forest of Dean.

NEWSLINK: Dalma ‘tiger’ could be hyena

Two forest guards have said that on Thursday they saw a tiger killing and carrying away a goat from near the Jhunjka jungle of Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary.

However, senior foresters said the animal could have been a hyena, a few of which are present in the state’s lone elephant abode.

Forest officials found marks of an animal on a dirt track leading to the Jhunjka jungles in East Singhbhum’s Patamda along the Bengal border, but they are not in a hurry to certify that those were of the big cat .