13 Sep 2012

Big Cats at Festival of Nature

The 8th September Stroud Festival Nature drew large crowds, with children and families engaged in creative activities across the different stalls and demonstrations. I have made a couple of films of the day - one of the Eco-Zone stalls - see blog on Monday for link - and the other of the Wind in the Willows play which should be ready very soon...

It was certainly a great atmosphere - huge credit to Steve Roberts and others who organised it all...

Anyhow for the second year running the Big Cats stall was busy all day. I had a report from Rick Minter who shared some of what was fed back on the day and I thought I could share here....some 16 different reports of big cats were made during the day. Most of these related to sightings and encounters in recent years, but two reports were made by people unknown to each other but who described what appeared to be the same animal in the same place over the past two weeks in the Stroud valleys.

The survey of attitudes to local big cats produced similar results to last year (see photo). By far the strongest reaction about big cats from people is "leave them alone", while "it's exciting" and "survey them" are the other main response people make. A very small proportion of people were scepitcal of possible big cats. Interestingly Rick says the figures are similar to other events and last year in Stratford park - and yes people are to some extent self-selecting but still indicates that people largely take a measured view on the implications of big cats such as pumas and black leopards being around.

At the stall, 93 people commented on the recent tantalising photograph which had been in local papers. 75 per cent of respondents thought the animal was feline, and just 11 per cent thought it was a dog. 5 per cent thought it was a standard domestic or feral cat, 16 per cent felt it could be a larger feral cat, while 54 per cent thought it was a genuine big cat.

See more in Rick's book:

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