16 Sep 2011

Talking Big Cats at the Festival of Nature

At the Festival of Nature at the weekend one of the stalls that intrigued me was the one looking at Big Cats - an issue I've covered before in this blog. Well Rick Minter (pictured left) who has thoroughly researched the subject and written books - indeed another one coming out this October, "BIG CATS - Facing Britain's wild predators". See:

Anyhow Rick approachs the subject with loads of sanity and spent the day answering questions from the public - he said that the main kinds of questions were...
-what are the cats?
-how did they get here?
-what to do if we come close to one? 

On the day he also had 12 people report sightings, mainly in known hot-spot locations. See this blog previously re sitings locally here and here. Infact just this week in Pangbourne near Reading there was a siting - see here - so not just Glos.

Many people's views are summarised in the attached photo of the sticky-dot survey sheet (click on photo to see details). As Rick himself says, to some extent this is self-selected voting, but sometimes people in the same family or group had different views and were able to discuss them together.

Rick added: "As I find at the talks I give, most people have a measured approach and recognise it is a tricky subject, as information signs could cause more trouble than they are intended to solve, and a large cat is rarely resident in one location for long as it moves in its territory. As you will also see from the results, many people feel we should try and learn more about these animals to inform our view, as difficult as that is for secretive and elusive mammals, and on a topic that is still unofficial. I think the overall exercise shows that many people are becoming acclimatized to the issues, and that education and outreach like this perhaps has a key role to play." 

The photo cat left is fibre glass but the other pic is impressive  of a possible big cat - my reproduction doesn't do justice to it but it certainly looks like a very big cat indeed.

No comments: