16 Feb 2012

Big Cats in Glos; evidence and implications

Big Cat photo?
Some might have seen The Sun coverage of Stroud 's Coryn Memory filming in Summer 2010 what looks like a Big Cat - see here. There is apparently lots more than these edited highlights here. Well you can hear about this and more at a talk coming up....

Indeed basically this post is a bit of publicity for the illustrated talk by Rick Minter and Frank Tunbridge: Rick Minter is author of BIG CATS - Facing Britain's Wild Predators while Frank Tunbridge has recorded big cat sightings for 25 years.

The speakers will…
  • Present the evidence for big cats living and breeding in Gloucestershire
  • Discuss the implications of feral big cats for people and for other wildlife
THURSDAY 15TH MARCH 7.30 – 9.30pm at St Laurence Church Hall, Stroud. Price £3 Adults/£2 Child. Booking essential. For more details and to book your place contact Clare at Stroud Valleys Project, 8 Threadneedle Street, Stroud Glos Tel 01453 753358

The BBC Wildlife web site also has a report of the Woodchester big cat - see:

1 comment:

Philip Booth said...

Rick just sent this:

ITN web site report of footage by Coryn Memory: http://www.itn.co.uk/and-finally/38630/Big+Cat+in+Gloucestershire


I have viewed all of the footage taken by Coryn Memory and examined it with various wildlife and mammal experts. Several other such specialists have got back to me since the snippets of the footage have been shown. Based on the scale suggested, all these people agree it is an important development for the following reasons:

It is clearly a cat, and somewhat bigger than a fox. The scaled measurement of around three-and-a-half foot body length and two-and-a-half foot tail means it is beyond the scale of a large feral cat. We do not know for sure, but scientifically, a leopard in its black form is one option for such a cat. That scale can equate to something like a female leopard, especially if the diet is mainly small prey like rabbits, mice, pigeons, pheasants and smaller deer.

The footage shows the behaviour of this cat at dusk in a freshly cut pasture. It appears to be taking the easy option of checking for mice and voles which are exposed after grass cutting. Large predators need to conserve energy in all that they do.

It is the form and the movement of the cat which wildlife specialsts are remarking on. We should not expect a cat living here such as a black leopard to look and behave exactly as it does in its official home in Asia. Coryn's footage shows a cat living in our conditions of grassland, scrub and small woodlands. We might be mistaken if we simply expect such an animal to look like its counterpart in its native lands.

This cat seems to have a form and limbs adapted for running, more like we expect to see in a cheetah, but nobody thinks we have feral cheetahs in Britain, as they would reveal themselves chasing prey on open land. By contrast, black leopards and sandy-grey pumas, which are the main candidates for big cats here, need to keep stealthy as they mainly stalk and ambush prey, yet this cat seems unlike the classic form and poise of such cats.

Although the footage begs many questions, it may indicate what many of us suspect - that big cats here would adapt to our landscape, and so may not resemble what we see in text books. That is part of the fascination of these animals, that so many people are now saying it would be a good idea to study.