Big cat sightings UK: DNA 'proves' big cats 'on the prowl' - where and when have they been spotted in the UK?

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Could there finally be "proof" of big cats in the British countryside?

For the first time there might be "definitive proof" that big cats are stalking these British Isles.

Documentary makers claim that a DNA test proves that black panthers and other large felines are roaming the countryside. There has long been sightings, sparking many theories about what exactly people have really seen.

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The sudden apperances of large felines have had a place in British folklore for decades, even centuries. Many of the creatures are described as “panthers”, “black cats” or even “pumas”.

Among these famous sightings are the Beast of Exmoor, the Beast of Bodmin Moor and more. A recent example comes from our sister website the Derbyshire Times which featured a wild camper who “recorded” a big cat.

There is even a term for the big cats reportedly spotted in these sightings: Alien, or Anomalous, Big Cats - ABC for short. The phenomenon is also refered to as “phantom cats”.

But for the first time there could be "proof" that the sightings could be based in reality. Here is all you need to know:

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Are the big cat sightings real?

Our sister website LondonWorld reports that DNA from a black hair caught on a barbwire fence following a sheep attack in the UK has offered “definitive proof” big cats are prowling the British countryside, say documentary makers. The strands were sent off for testing after being recovered from a farm in Gloucestershire where there had been some “unusual” predatory activity.

A forensic laboratory took on the species identification task and used mitochondrial DNA analysis to ascertain a 99 per cent match to a big cat species. The findings have come to light as part of filming for an upcoming documentary - “Panthera Britannia Declassified” - which investigates claims of big cat sightings in Britain.

Where was the latest big cat sighting?

Our sister title Derbyshire Times have had a reported big cat sighting on their patch in 2022. The paper spoke to YouTuber Novice Wildcamper, who travels around the UK and records videos of his camping trips for his channel.

He claims to have heard a distinctive growling sound while visiting White Edge in the Derbyshire Dales. The YouTuber, real name Michael, told them: “I was lying in my tent at night and recording a video and I kept hearing some weird noises outside. It was like a guttural growl, but a bit distant and then suddenly got really loud.

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“I’ve heard many strange noises while camping. I’ve heard a rutting deer, which makes some horrific noises, attacked wild foxes and pigs. Every noise I can explain, link to a creature that is local to the area.

“And although they may sound weird, you just get used to them. But this noise, I just never heard anything like it before. You could sort of feel it. When you hear a deep bass sound, you can actually sort of feel the sound as opposed to just hearing it. And the only thing that I could think of in my head was a big cat.”

Upon his return home, Michael began researching animal sounds and all the research pointed to the sound being that of a wild, big cat. “I’ve googled and searched on YouTube, every single noise of different animals, and none of them sound even remotely close. The only thing I could find that sounded similar were growls of big cats like a black leopard.”

Michael believes the sounds are similar to the growls of a big cat like black leopardsMichael believes the sounds are similar to the growls of a big cat like black leopards
Michael believes the sounds are similar to the growls of a big cat like black leopards

Where have other big cat sightings taken place?

The Sun reports a list of some of the most famous big cat sightings that have taken place across the UK through the years. Mystery remains about what exactly these incidents truly are.

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The most famous big cats in the UK are the Beast of Bodmin Moor and the Beast of Exmoor. The Beast of Bodmin Moor was first allegedly spotted in 1978 in Cornwall, there have been various sightings through the years and claims of slaim livestock and cattle.

The Beast of Exmoor is said to roam the fields of Exmoor in Devon and Somerset. It is listed under the Traditions, Folklore, and Legends section of the official Exmoor National Park website. Sightings first began in the 1970s but the Beast of Exmoor became famous in 1983, when a farmer claimed to have lost 100 sheep.

Here are more alleged big cat sightings:

  • The Beast of Bodmin Moor - Cornwall
  • The Beast of Exmoor - Devon and Summerset
  • The Beast of Buchan - Buchan area of Aberdeenshire, claims date to 1930s
  • The Beast of Cumbria - Cumbria, is reported to be a black cat like a panther
  • The Hull Hell Cat - A huge puma ‘spotted hiding in a field near Hull’
  • The Bury Beast - Bury, A black panther spotted in the suburbs of Manchester
  • The Wildcat of Wakefield - Wakefield, A black panther-like cat spotted in a Yorkshire field
  • The Pershore Panther - Pershore, A huge black cat beside the road in Worcestershire
  • The Wildcat of Warwickshire - A possible lynx spotted wandering Warwickshire
  • The Bedfordshire Big Cat - A “panther-like” cat stalking the county
  • The Beast of Silsoe - Bedfordshire, A ‘cat as big as Labrador’ seen roaming the small parish
  • The Beast of Bucks - Buckinghamshire, A puma which attacked a dog in High Wycombe
  • The Beast of Broomfield - A huge cat spotted in Essex
  • The Dartmoor Lynx - Devon, Several sightings in recent months on the moors
  • The Dartmoor Devil - Devon A leopard believed to be behind cattle attacks
  • The Creature of Cornwall - Reportedly a stalking lion
  • The Suffolk Panther - A huge black cat spotted on the Norfolk/Suffolk border
  • Cotswolds Big Cat -

But what actually are these big cats?

The British Isles do not have currently have a native population of big cats like pumas, panthers and lynxs. However sightings of big animals have continued throughout the years. Prior to the phenomenon of big cats being seen across the country, the Black Dog was a part of English folklore.

But what actually could these big cats be, if that is what has really been seen or heard by people during these incidents? There are actually a number of theories. Experts have rejected the existance of a breeding population of true Big cats in Britain due to a lack of convincing evidence of the presence of these animals - due to them requiring a large food supply.

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A few lynxs have actually been recovered by the auhtorities and in the 1980s a puma was captured alive in Scotland. These are believed to have been escaped or released exotic pets, possibly set free after the introduction of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.

Big cats such as leopards, scimitar-toothed cats, lions, and lynxs could be found in the British Isles during the Ice Age and fringe theories suggest these sightings could be left over fauna from that period. However as mentioned above there is not the evidence to support the existance of a population of true big cats in Britain.

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