And since cancer and rising house prices don't do it any more...
My worst fears nearly became a chilling reality last week when two girls, Kim Howells, 15, and her cousin Sophie Gwynne, eight, were stalked in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire - by what appears to have been a huge black cat.Well, if that didn't catch the attention of the police, I don't know what would! Do you have a confession to make, Mark..?
Kim described the ‘panther’ as about the size of a Great Dane. ‘We cut through the brambles and just started running,’ she reported afterwards.
When they arrived home, their feet were cut and bleeding. Sophie was in tears. But what really brought this strange case home to me was the fact that if they had come to any real harm, I would have felt responsible.
For six months earlier, I had visited the same spot near Cinderford while making a TV film about leopards around the world, including a short section about the (I thought unlikely) possibility of them living in the UK.Say one thing for him, he knows how to lead into a story. 'I could tell you, but then I'd have to...'
In the end, fearful of causing public alarm, I chose not to use any of the extraordinary evidence I gathered.
For the truth is I may well know the ‘mythical’ beast that chased them. Danny Nineham, the region’s local big cat enthusiast, showed me evidence of its existence when I was there last autumn. And it’s a black leopard — nicknamed Boris.Damn! Does every region require a 'local big cat enthusiast'? Is there a grant for it? Sounds like a cushy job.
‘He’s huge, even for a male leopard,’ Nineham told me. ‘I’ve recorded many sightings of him. He’s dangerous, in my view. More so than any of the other leopards living and breeding wild in the Forest of Dean, or around the country.’
Nineham works with the authorities, logging the details. He collects possible hair and droppings samples, makes plaster casts of suspected paw prints, and sets up camera traps, all in the hope he can prove once and for all that Britain is stalked by big cats.Ah, ok, maybe not.
And I suspect 'works with the authorities' is code for raised eyebrows at the local police station and a 'Oh, it's this nutter again...'
...we planned to interview Nineham as one of these eccentric believers and had lined up the wildlife liaison officer at Gloucestershire police, Mark Robson, to balance his claims./facepalm
Amazingly, however, he did no such thing. In fact, as I listened gobsmacked, Robson told me that most big cat sightings really are of leopards, and that there are enough eyewitness reports to follow individual animals’ movements on a map.
Let's hope his boss is reading this over his cornflakes. I can foresee a dressing-down on the horizon for Mark 'I Like To Have Fun With Journalists' Robson...
Many suspected sightings, after all, tend to be domestic cats, mangy foxes, even stuffed toys....
As eminent mammal expert Professor Stephen Harris told me: ‘Black always looks bigger in the dark.’
OK, I'm not touching that one!
I have to agree with him, the last thing we want is conclusive proof, telling us where and when these creatures appear in precise detail. Our record of living with large animals, however rare and beautiful, is not good.Because it's not enough that we worry our kids about paedophiles, traffic, gangs, etc. We should tell them to be on the lookout for non-native predatory wildlife, too.
But I do think that we should be aware that these extraordinary animals are probably out there, somewhere. And it is right that people such as those two little girls should know what they might meet on a Sunday walk.
There could well be wil panthers in the Forest of Dean. In the part of North Carolina I come from, there are a number of small islands hosting wild Arabian horses - the descendants of those brought to North America by early explorers and colonists. No natural predators on those islands... just like panthers have no natural predators in the Forest of Dean, and could have been breeding there from a single pair two hundred years ago.
Oh, it's not that I doubt their ability to survive.
It's that I doubt their ability to survive unseen and leaving no physical traces in the middle of the English countryside...
How are they evading their unnatural predator, the Ford Escort or Eddie Stobart lorry?
We should tell them to be on the lookout for non-native predatory wildlife, too.
Especialy if they live in Blackpool. You never KNOW whos' kebeb they could end up in.
Imagination and a desire to seek publicity, sounds like these two young "ladies" are on to a winner here. People lap up the monster in the closet stories so easily these days, possibly because nothing really exciting happens in their lives. I wonder what would happen if we introduced some real predators into rural Englandshire, hyena's for example ;)
what would happen if we introduced some real predators
some people are giving it a good try.
Although I admit this would have given me a brown trouser moment.
The Bald Eagle Has Landed
I would like to add from the story
Mrs Arikan rang the RSPCA and the RSPB but staff didn't believe her because the raptors are extinct in Europe.
Just how useless are these fuckwits, do they just spend all their time in court trying to get more out of bequests and prosecuting people for selling goldfish
Yes, they may be extinct in the wild, but did not the possibilty off one escaping ever occur to them
OK, I'm not touching that one!
Marvellous, simply marvellous.
p.s you owe me a keyboard.
As an aside to the remarks by Pavlov's Cat. We have a pair of eagles in our valley here in the Pyrenees. These are the Royal eagle and have very little fear of cars - in fact I've met one in the middle of a single lane country road and all it did was to glare at me fore some time before it moved over to the rocks at the side of the road.
"Especialy if they live in Blackpool. You never KNOW whos' kebeb they could end up in."
"People lap up the monster in the closet stories so easily these days, possibly because nothing really exciting happens in their lives."
And also because of the burgeoning 'reality TV' craze, I suspect.
"Although I admit this would have given me a brown trouser moment. "
Indeed! She was lucky to have only a few scratches.
"...in fact I've met one in the middle of a single lane country road and all it did was to glare at me fore some time before it moved over to the rocks at the side of the road."
What's the attraction of roads? Plenty of carrion?
I have seen a Large Black cat in my neck of the woods.
I do beleive people exaggerate the size of the things they see, as reports round here say it is massive etc.
However, being an experienced hunter here and on the African continent, the one I saw is a modest cat, say a panther / leopard a large adult one may weigh 170 /200 lbs. the cat I saw would have weighed at most 50 / 70 lbs.
So on taking into account shape, ie ears, tail, size ie in relation to the fence it was next to, speed it travelled, it was most likely to be an Indian Melonistic cat.
yes they can live here, live on carrion, young lambs, (most likely where my sheep are going?) and live on discarded take-aways.
"So on taking into account shape, ie ears, tail, size ie in relation to the fence it was next to, speed it travelled, it was most likely to be an Indian Melonistic cat."
Karl Shuker's excellent book on mystery cats hasd quite a long list of escaped cats living wild quite happily for sometimes years before recapture or death.
In fact, in Hayling Island, the Havant Museum sometimes has a swamp cat on display, killed on the roads.
I seem to remember reading somewhere, that if a pet animal gets into the wild, after one or two gebnerations they are much larger than your normal "Domesticus Moggyus".
It was something to do with house cats breeding witrh the local wild cats in Scotland.
"It was something to do with house cats breeding witrh the local wild cats in Scotland."
That'll be the (in)famous 'Kellas Cat'...
No, I have heard of them. These are silver tabbys. I had one.
A VISCIOUS bstard that put the other two cats out of the house, and was nearly as big as the black and white tom cat I had, when it was 3 months old!!!
It used to bring back the farmers ducks.
Which, with the help of the back of my sword, I used to nick off it, and eat it myself. (Gace the moggy the guts and other bits I did not get to eat.)
It used to chase off foxes as well.
"It used to bring back the farmers ducks."
I've heard of pick your own strawberries, but... ;)
Post a Comment