Saturday 15 June 2024

"As credible eye-witnesses, there is not a jury in the land who would doubt their testimony. "

Are you sure about that

Settling down to enjoy her lunch, pensioner Annie Mitchell gazed out absent-mindedly at a bird box in the garden when a large black shadow caught her eye. Convinced she had seen a strange cat ‘larger than a labrador’ roaming on old tennis courts beyond her home in Kirriemuir, Angus, the 71-year-old braved the February chill to take a closer look. ‘I felt it was bigger than any cat I have seen. I went outside to get a closer look and was only a car length away. It looked big.’

Here's the video she took and well, I can only say, if that's a 'car length' away... 

Mr Welsh, a ghillie, deerstalker and farmhand, said: ‘From the way it was moving, the tail size and that, it was slightly like a panther but it could be a crossbreed. I’ve seen them plenty of times. I’ve seen lynx, I’ve seen panthers, I’ve seen crossbreeds – they’re all over the place.’

No Loch Ness Monster? Scottish Sasquatch?

In July last year, panic gripped the villagers in Brydekirk, Dumfriesshire, amid talk of a cat the size of a labrador prowling the fields nearby. Beyond the talk, there was nothing tangible for the experts to get their teeth into until, earlier this month, some remarkable proof came to light just over the Border in Cumbria, thanks to the bloodied remains of a recently savaged sheep and a quick-thinking local. The sheep was discovered by Sharon Larkin-Snowden early one morning in October after she disturbed whatever had been eating the carcass. ‘I saw something black, running, and I assumed at first it was a sheepdog,’ she said. ‘Then I did a double take and realised it was a black cat. It ran towards a stone wall, stopped and then jumped the wall. It was big – the size of a German shepherd dog.’

Luckily, this local was equipped. No, not with the usual camera with all the photographic quality of a potato, but something else.  

Something made her take a swab of the carcass, which found its way to Professor Robin Allaby, a biologist at the University of Warwick with an interest in big cat research. He analysed the sample and discovered ‘Panthera genus’ DNA, which can only have come from a lion, leopard, tiger, jaguar or snow leopard.

Wasn't it lucky she happened to have a DNA test swab on her? When I went walking in Cumbria, all I packed was some Kendal Mint Cake!  

The astonishing breakthrough has reignited the eternal question – if there are big cats prowling the Lake District, is it too much of a leap to suppose big cats are living wild in Scotland too?

Makes my upcoming trip to Edinburgh potentially more exciting!  


James Higham said...

Bet you'll take one look and they'll cower before you.

JuliaM said...

"Bet you'll take one look and they'll cower before you."