Claim: DNA evidence confirms existence of black panthers in the British countryside

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/worl...5bd65ebd3f140d8963cd06ffde68434&ei=21#image=4

https://metro.co.uk/2023/05/11/dna-...stence-of-black-panthers-in-britain-18766763/

''DNA from a black hair caught on a barbwire fence following a sheep attack has offered 'definitive proof' big cats are roaming the British countryside.

The strands were sent off for testing after being recovered from a farm in Gloucestershire where there had been some 'unusual predatory' activity.

Suspicion was raised when video footage of a large black animal was also captured only a few miles away from where the sample was taken.

And documentary-makers, who had been investigating sightings across the UK, say the test has now come back 'positive' and confirmed the existence of black panthers and other big cats living in the UK.

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.''
 
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My biggest question is if there are black leopards in England, why are there *only* reports of black leopards?

The melanistic gene is recessive in leopards, and not all melanistic leopards are fully black, some are still spotted but with a darker background.

That doesn't eliminate the possibility of a single rogue animal (imported as an ill advised pet perhaps), but the claim seems to be of a widespread and long term population that a single animal can't account for.
 
If this population started with two black leopards and only two, the fact that the melanistic gene is recessive would ensure that all descendants would be black.

Or if there were two leopards with one recessive gene each, many descendants would have a double recessive.

Or any permutation you'd care to think up.
 

0_SWNS_BIG_CATS_007.jpg

Black Panther of Rutland' skulking through the undergrowth in in a farmers field in Empingham, Rutland (Image: Shell Lee / SWNS)

[...]

Matthew Everett, from Dragonfly Films, said: "The DNA was from hairs caught on a barbwire fence where there had been some unusual predatory activity.

"It's taken five years for the production team to find such evidence and film its journey from collection to analysis.

"People in Gloucestershire and Britain have described what appear to be black leopards for decades. So, a leopard DNA result from a black hair sample is unsurprising.

"This is not the first such DNA result and is unlikely to be the last.

"There is a great deal of 'secondary evidence' for these cats, such as consistent witness reports, but hard evidence like DNA is hard to get, so the contribution from this documentary is very helpful.

[...]

Dragonfly Films is currently pursuing broadcast options for Panthera Britannia Declassified.

An earlier version of the film "Panthera Britannia" available on Amazon Prime, Vimeo and Apple TV.

I expect finding that hair is going to help them sell their film.

The genus "Panthera" encompasses all big cats.
 
From the article in the OP (bold by me):

External Quote:
Matthew Everett, from Dragonfly Films, said: 'The DNA was from hairs caught on a barbwire fence where there had been some unusual predatory activity.

'It's taken five years for the production team to find such evidence and film its journey from collection to analysis.

'People in Gloucestershire and Britain have described what appear to be black leopards for decades. So, a leopard DNA result from a black hair sample is unsurprising.

'This is not the first such DNA result and is unlikely to be the last.

'There is a great deal of "secondary evidence" for these cats, such as consistent witness reports, but hard evidence like DNA is hard to get, so the contribution from this documentary is very helpful.
The claim then is that there are Asian Leopards roaming the UK. Bothe Asian leopards and American jaguars can have the melanistic condition resulting in the black or nearly black appearance.

It appears that 5 species of Asian leopard can have this allele:

External Quote:
Frequency of melanism appears to be approximately 11% over the leopard's range. Data on the distribution of leopard populations indicates that melanism occurs in five subspecies in the wild: the Indian leopard, Javan leopard, African leopard, Indochinese leopard (P. p. delacouri) and Sri Lankan leopard (P. p. kotiya). Based on records from camera traps, melanistic leopards occur foremost in tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests.[19]
Consistent with Mr. Wolf's comment above, there may be a population of mostly or all black individuals:

External Quote:
Most leopards recorded at 16 sites south of the Kra Isthmus between 1996 and 2009 were black, indicating a near-fixation of melanism in Peninsular Malaysia.[16]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_panther

The challenge would be for a breeding population of sufficient size to maintain proper genetic diversity in rural parts of the UK, while remaining largely undetected. I can't tell exactly form the article, but it seems the claim is that these large cats are endemic to the UK even if possibly originating in Asia:

External Quote:
And documentary-makers, who had been investigating sightings across the UK,

Citizen Science like this will hopefully help us learn more about the Bagheera type big cats which may be quietly naturalising here
https://metro.co.uk/2023/05/11/dna-...stence-of-black-panthers-in-britain-18766763/

We'll have to wait for the actual DNA analysis to be made public so that others can take a look at it. I suppose a population of black leopards descendent from captive subjects brought back from the British Raj is possible. However, living in the Western US which is cougar/mountain lion habitat, I can say people do see and photograph these animals and they are captured by the state officials.

In addition, leopards in the wild are often filmed by experienced nature photographers/videographers, just check out the various BBC series. If there was a substantial leopard population running around the UK, I would think experienced filmmakers could capture them.
 
It might be worth bearing in mind this news comes from Dragonfly Films (website https://www.dragonfly.tv/home/),
but I'll park that for now.

Sightings of big cats in Britain seem to come and go. They're sometimes referred to as "Alien Big Cats", ABCs.

In my youth there was still talk of the Surrey Puma, which even at the time seemed improbable to most unless it was a single escaped (or released) animal- Surrey is a relatively prosperous county immediately south-west of Greater London. It has many forested areas and "green spaces" like the Surrey Hills and part of the North Downs as well as agricultural land;
however all these areas are regularly visited by people for recreational purposes.
The population density and distribution make it extremely unlikely that a population of big cats could live there without clear evidence being found on a regular basis.

External Quote:
Density 720/km2 (1,900/sq mi)
(Wikipedia, Surrey https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surrey)

A nice account of the Surrey Puma is given on this BBC local news webpage here,
"The Surrey Puma: Fact or Fiction?", BBC Local, Surrey, Heather Driscoll-Woodford, 17 February 2010
http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/surrey/low/people_and_places/nature/newsid_8520000/8520071.stm

Wikipedia page on "British big cats", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_big_cats

"ABCs" have been run over/ shot/ captured in Britain, but most are probably escaped/ discarded illegally-kept pets.
No Lions, Tigers or Leopards (except for brief- and noticed!- zoo escapes).

From the Metro [London newspaper] article cited by serpentdebunker,
External Quote:
Residents of countryside towns across Britain have reported sightings of what appear to be black leopards for decades.
...LEOPARDS? :eek:

External Quote:
The farm where the DNA sample was recovered has had two individual sheep kill incidents in five years.
Metro, "DNA evidence confirms existence of black panthers in the British countryside", Athena Stavrou, 11/05/2023 https://metro.co.uk/2023/05/11/dna-...stence-of-black-panthers-in-britain-18766763/

I don't want to seem callous, but two sheep deaths in five years doesn't make me think that there's a local "big cat" problem.
And what about neighbouring farms? A big cat needs a large territory, and sheep are easy prey.

However, farmers in Britain generally (and almost certainly correctly) ascribe livestock predation to dogs
External Quote:

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) said it is encouraged by the plans.
According to its figures 15,000 sheep are killed every year by dogs in the UK.
"Farming: Dog attacks on sheep could lead to bigger fines", BBC Wales, Gareth Lewis and Bethan James, 27/11/2021
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-59418746

From the Metro article (link as above),
External Quote:

Matthew Everett, from Dragonfly Films, said: 'The DNA was from hairs caught on a barbwire fence where there had been some unusual predatory activity.

'It's taken five years for the production team to find such evidence and film its journey from collection to analysis.

'People in Gloucestershire and Britain have described what appear to be black leopards for decades. So, a leopard DNA result from a black hair sample is unsurprising.

'This is not the first such DNA result and is unlikely to be the last.
(My emphasis).

I was surprised that ABC DNA had been found; thanks to the Wikipedia page "British big cats" (link) I read
External Quote:
In 2011 it was announced by the Centre for Fortean Zoology that DNA testing, carried out by Durham University on hairs found in north-Devon, showed that a leopard was living in the area.
The citation linked to a "WaybackMachine"-archived article from the Western Morning News, 20/08/2011 (link)
which said
External Quote:

CFZ [Centre for Fortean Zoology] also revealed that hairs found in woods near Woolfardisworthy had been positively identified as those of a leopard.

“We had them DNA tested by Durham University and they confirmed they were leopard. This is proof that there was, as of last summer, at least one leopard apparently wild in the woodlands of North Devon,” said Mr Downes.
(My emphasis).
Not knowing where Woolfardisworthy is, I did a quick search; there's a Wikipedia page "Woolfardisworthy, Torridge" here,
which states
External Quote:

The Centre for Fortean Zoology is based here.
What an astonishing coincidence! The very village (pop. 1123 in 2001) where leopard DNA had been found is where
The Centre for Fortean Zoology is based!
Maybe there's a prosaic explanation for this amazing stroke of luck, but I can't think of one ;)


...And now we have another claim of DNA, again rather improbably from a leopard- and again from black hair- from Gloucestershire (pronounced Gloster-shire or Gloster-sher).

Gloucestershire isn't as suburban as Surrey, and has some decent tracts of untilled countryside- the Forest of Dean, the western end of the Cotswold Hills- but again not really the area of undisturbed woodland or "bush" needed to support a breeding population of leopards.
Population Density is less than Surrey
External Quote:
291/km2 (750/sq mi)
(Wikipedia, Gloucestershire) but it's clearly not the Serengeti.

Interestingly, two deer carcasses from Gloucestershire were checked for "ABC" DNA in 2012
"'Big cat' in Gloucestershire ruled out by DNA tests", BBC News, 02/02/2012 (link)
External Quote:

Scientists have failed to find any evidence that "big cats" killed two roe deer found dead in Gloucestershire.
The National Trust commissioned DNA tests last month, after finding one deer on its land at Woodchester Park, in Stroud, and one a few miles away.
Warwick University experts said they had only found DNA relating to foxes and deer on the bodies of the animals.
Forty-five samples were tested for the saliva of any dog or cat-related species.
The National Trust had initially said the carcasses, which were found within a week of each other, had been eaten in a way "thought to be highly indicative of big cat activity".
I would guess any fox predation would be post-mortem.
The National Trust is a large charity which conserves many areas of land (and famously, stately homes) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but I'm not sure it's the "go-to" agency to check out big cat kills. Actually, I can't think of any reason why the NT would have any knowledge or authority at all about such matters (National Trust website here ).

From the "Metro" article (link as above),
External Quote:
These cats mainly prey on wild animals like deer
...I have the good fortune to live near the New Forest in southern England, which has five species of deer (red, fallow, roe, muntjac and sika); I've known foresters and "commoners" (residents who have traditional rights to put animals out to graze in the forest), I've not heard one account of suspected big cat predation.

There is obviously a source of leopard DNA- specifically, leopard hair- in Britain, because it was found in the village where The Centre for Fortean Zoology is based...
Maybe someone should check to see if the CFZ was involved in any way with the latest Gloucestershire find, or with Dragonfly Films, to rule out any, umh, cross-contamination.

At least the (unnamed) Gloucestershire farmer's loss is Dragonfly Film's gain, I hope Dragonfly compensate him or her.
From the "Metro" article,
External Quote:

Matthew Everett, from Dragonfly Films, said:
....'It's taken five years for the production team to find such evidence and film its journey from collection to analysis.'

Dragonfly Films is currently pursuing broadcast options for Panthera Britannia Declassified. An earlier version of the film 'Panthera Britannia' available on Amazon Prime, Vimeo and Apple TV.
Ah. Well, I'm very happy for Matthew Everett and Dragonfly Films at the fortuitous finding of this evidence, just while they're "pursuing broadcast options".

And I hope the unnamed farmer tells his insurers about the presence of a leopard on his farm, and warns his neighbours, who might want to to do the same. And that they provide appropriate safety measures for their families and workers, as required by law.
I'm sure Dragonfly Films will inform the local authorities of their findings, though I'm sad about the impact this will have on camping and other outdoor leisure activities in Gloucestershire, leopards can be very dangerous (Wikipedia, Leopard attack).

Or maybe none of this will happen- almost as if the relevant farmer, and Dragonfly Films, don't really believe a leopard is present.
 
I suppose a population of black leopards descendent from captive subjects brought back from the British Raj is possible.
I'd never have thought of that!

In the 70's through to the 90's, news reports of big cats (and sometimes other animals) in the UK often mentioned the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976. (Wikipedia page here)
It's thought some irresponsible people who owned large "exotic" animals simply released them rather than comply with new restrictions. They might have been put off from donating their animals to legitimate zoos by the heavy penalties in place for smuggling animals; Britain had something of an obsession with rabies.
(Click to enlarge).
y1qib1juj0jy.jpgPoster_advertising_the_dangers_of_rabies_Wellcome_L0070325.jpg

Of course, if you wanted to buy a legitimately imported dangerous animal- and you had money- you could get it from Harrods!
"Harrods pet shop which sold alligators, lions and a baby elephant to Ronald Reagan set to close after almost 100 years",
Daily Mail, 11/01/2014, link here.
 
Would not surprise me at all if there were big cats in Britain. Lots of people with more money then sense, or who want to have something "forbidden", who later find their pet is a lot of work to feed and maintain. Easier to release it into the wild than to dispose of a large carcass.

How many big cats, and if they are reproducing, is the real question.
 
What an astonishing coincidence! The very village (pop. 1123 in 2001) where leopard DNA had been found is where
The Centre for Fortean Zoology is based!
The name of the organization got me curious. From their web site:
External Quote:
Since 1992, we have carried out extensive research into mystery animals and animal mysteries around the globe. We produce a weekly WebTV show called On The Track (OTT), which covers Cryptozoology, Natural History and Green Issues, all mixed with a little light comedy. We also operate our own publishing house, producing both magazines and books on subjects that would otherwise not see the light of day.
https://cfz.org.uk/

That suggests to me that their interest is their web site and their publications as money-making ventures. There's an audience for that kind of thing that wants to believe in odd things and is not too concerned about factual evidence. When they say things "that would otherwise not see the light of day", that screams to me "things that are not corroborated by reputable science", and I'd take their conclusions with a grain of salt.

My opinion? Yes, escaped leopards seem possible. No, not every maimed sheep carcass means a leopard did it.
 
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Over in the thylacine thread, the delicate subject of solid waste excretions was raised...
https://www.metabunk.org/threads/th...photos-from-1st-march-2021.11635/#post-246229
by DavidB66. In essence, if there are big critters around, expect to find big poops (scat, to use a less frivolous term.)

Of course, the smaller the population, the less scat there would be lying around on the ground to be found. If there is the occasional abandoned pet leopard, that would be a different situation, scatologically, than a breeding population with more numerous animals all eating and excreting their way through life. Long story short, if there are enough to breed for generation upon generation, you are going to expect to find some poo.

I wondered if leopards might be waste-burying critters, but...

Leopards make use of visual territorial markings. These “territorial beacons” are denoted by means of conspicuous defecation or clawed marks on tree trunks.
https://www.wildlifeact.com/blog/how-do-leopards-mark-their-range/

That seems the sort of thing that would get noticed by folks sharp-eyed enough to spot a tuft of hair on a fence.

Fast edit to add -- occurred to me that maybe Jaguars, which also have "black panthers" among their populations, might be waste-hiders, but no...

The jaguar uses scrape marks, urine, and feces to mark its territory.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaguar
 
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It might be worth bearing in mind this news comes from Dragonfly Films (website https://www.dragonfly.tv/home/),
but I'll park that for now.

Sightings of big cats in Britain seem to come and go. They're sometimes referred to as "Alien Big Cats", ABCs.

In my youth there was still talk of the Surrey Puma, which even at the time seemed improbable to most unless it was a single escaped (or released) animal- Surrey is a relatively prosperous county immediately south-west of Greater London. It has many forested areas and "green spaces" like the Surrey Hills and part of the North Downs as well as agricultural land;
however all these areas are regularly visited by people for recreational purposes.
The population density and distribution make it extremely unlikely that a population of big cats could live there without clear evidence being found on a regular basis.

External Quote:
Density 720/km2 (1,900/sq mi)
(Wikipedia, Surrey https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surrey)

A nice account of the Surrey Puma is given on this BBC local news webpage here,
"The Surrey Puma: Fact or Fiction?", BBC Local, Surrey, Heather Driscoll-Woodford, 17 February 2010
http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/surrey/low/people_and_places/nature/newsid_8520000/8520071.stm

Wikipedia page on "British big cats", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_big_cats

"ABCs" have been run over/ shot/ captured in Britain, but most are probably escaped/ discarded illegally-kept pets.
No Lions, Tigers or Leopards (except for brief- and noticed!- zoo escapes).

From the Metro [London newspaper] article cited by serpentdebunker,
External Quote:
Residents of countryside towns across Britain have reported sightings of what appear to be black leopards for decades.
...LEOPARDS? :eek:

External Quote:
The farm where the DNA sample was recovered has had two individual sheep kill incidents in five years.
Metro, "DNA evidence confirms existence of black panthers in the British countryside", Athena Stavrou, 11/05/2023 https://metro.co.uk/2023/05/11/dna-...stence-of-black-panthers-in-britain-18766763/

I don't want to seem callous, but two sheep deaths in five years doesn't make me think that there's a local "big cat" problem.
And what about neighbouring farms? A big cat needs a large territory, and sheep are easy prey.

However, farmers in Britain generally (and almost certainly correctly) ascribe livestock predation to dogs
External Quote:

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) said it is encouraged by the plans.
According to its figures 15,000 sheep are killed every year by dogs in the UK.
"Farming: Dog attacks on sheep could lead to bigger fines", BBC Wales, Gareth Lewis and Bethan James, 27/11/2021
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-59418746

From the Metro article (link as above),
External Quote:

Matthew Everett, from Dragonfly Films, said: 'The DNA was from hairs caught on a barbwire fence where there had been some unusual predatory activity.

'It's taken five years for the production team to find such evidence and film its journey from collection to analysis.

'People in Gloucestershire and Britain have described what appear to be black leopards for decades. So, a leopard DNA result from a black hair sample is unsurprising.

'This is not the first such DNA result and is unlikely to be the last.
(My emphasis).

I was surprised that ABC DNA had been found; thanks to the Wikipedia page "British big cats" (link) I read
External Quote:
In 2011 it was announced by the Centre for Fortean Zoology that DNA testing, carried out by Durham University on hairs found in north-Devon, showed that a leopard was living in the area.
The citation linked to a "WaybackMachine"-archived article from the Western Morning News, 20/08/2011 (link)
which said
External Quote:

CFZ [Centre for Fortean Zoology] also revealed that hairs found in woods near Woolfardisworthy had been positively identified as those of a leopard.

“We had them DNA tested by Durham University and they confirmed they were leopard. This is proof that there was, as of last summer, at least one leopard apparently wild in the woodlands of North Devon,” said Mr Downes.
(My emphasis).
Not knowing where Woolfardisworthy is, I did a quick search; there's a Wikipedia page "Woolfardisworthy, Torridge" here,
which states
External Quote:

The Centre for Fortean Zoology is based here.
What an astonishing coincidence! The very village (pop. 1123 in 2001) where leopard DNA had been found is where
The Centre for Fortean Zoology is based!
Maybe there's a prosaic explanation for this amazing stroke of luck, but I can't think of one ;)


...And now we have another claim of DNA, again rather improbably from a leopard- and again from black hair- from Gloucestershire (pronounced Gloster-shire or Gloster-sher).

Gloucestershire isn't as suburban as Surrey, and has some decent tracts of untilled countryside- the Forest of Dean, the western end of the Cotswold Hills- but again not really the area of undisturbed woodland or "bush" needed to support a breeding population of leopards.
Population Density is less than Surrey
External Quote:
291/km2 (750/sq mi)
(Wikipedia, Gloucestershire) but it's clearly not the Serengeti.

Interestingly, two deer carcasses from Gloucestershire were checked for "ABC" DNA in 2012
"'Big cat' in Gloucestershire ruled out by DNA tests", BBC News, 02/02/2012 (link)
External Quote:

Scientists have failed to find any evidence that "big cats" killed two roe deer found dead in Gloucestershire.
The National Trust commissioned DNA tests last month, after finding one deer on its land at Woodchester Park, in Stroud, and one a few miles away.
Warwick University experts said they had only found DNA relating to foxes and deer on the bodies of the animals.
Forty-five samples were tested for the saliva of any dog or cat-related species.
The National Trust had initially said the carcasses, which were found within a week of each other, had been eaten in a way "thought to be highly indicative of big cat activity".
I would guess any fox predation would be post-mortem.
The National Trust is a large charity which conserves many areas of land (and famously, stately homes) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but I'm not sure it's the "go-to" agency to check out big cat kills. Actually, I can't think of any reason why the NT would have any knowledge or authority at all about such matters (National Trust website here ).

From the "Metro" article (link as above),
External Quote:
These cats mainly prey on wild animals like deer
...I have the good fortune to live near the New Forest in southern England, which has five species of deer (red, fallow, roe, muntjac and sika); I've known foresters and "commoners" (residents who have traditional rights to put animals out to graze in the forest), I've not heard one account of suspected big cat predation.

There is obviously a source of leopard DNA- specifically, leopard hair- in Britain, because it was found in the village where The Centre for Fortean Zoology is based...
Maybe someone should check to see if the CFZ was involved in any way with the latest Gloucestershire find, or with Dragonfly Films, to rule out any, umh, cross-contamination.

At least the (unnamed) Gloucestershire farmer's loss is Dragonfly Film's gain, I hope Dragonfly compensate him or her.
From the "Metro" article,
External Quote:

Matthew Everett, from Dragonfly Films, said:
....'It's taken five years for the production team to find such evidence and film its journey from collection to analysis.'

Dragonfly Films is currently pursuing broadcast options for Panthera Britannia Declassified. An earlier version of the film 'Panthera Britannia' available on Amazon Prime, Vimeo and Apple TV.
Ah. Well, I'm very happy for Matthew Everett and Dragonfly Films at the fortuitous finding of this evidence, just while they're "pursuing broadcast options".

And I hope the unnamed farmer tells his insurers about the presence of a leopard on his farm, and warns his neighbours, who might want to to do the same. And that they provide appropriate safety measures for their families and workers, as required by law.
I'm sure Dragonfly Films will inform the local authorities of their findings, though I'm sad about the impact this will have on camping and other outdoor leisure activities in Gloucestershire, leopards can be very dangerous (Wikipedia, Leopard attack).

Or maybe none of this will happen- almost as if the relevant farmer, and Dragonfly Films, don't really believe a leopard is present.
Its not like anyone involved could have visited a zoo or anything - maybe they should consult Melba Ketchem
 
In the 70's through to the 90's, news reports of big cats (and sometimes other animals) in the UK often mentioned the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976. (Wikipedia page here)
It's thought some irresponsible people who owned large "exotic" animals simply released them rather than comply with new restrictions. They might have been put off from donating their animals to legitimate zoos by the heavy penalties in place for smuggling animals; Britain had something of an obsession with rabies.

It's happened several times in the US. There was nutria, imported for fur and now endemic to a lot of wetland areas:

External Quote:
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, nutria were first introduced to the United States in California, in 1899. They were first brought to Louisiana in the early 1930s for the fur industry, and the population was kept in check, or at a small population size, because of trapping pressure from the fur traders.[15] The earliest account of nutria spreading freely into Louisiana wetlands from their enclosures was in the early 1940s; a hurricane hit the Louisiana coast for which many people were unprepared, and the storm destroyed the enclosures, enabling the nutria to escape into the wild.[15] According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, nutria were also transplanted from Port Arthur, Texas, to the Mississippi River in 1941 and then spread due to a hurricane later that year.[38]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nutria

There is also the Burmese Python, now endemic to the Florida Everglades:

External Quote:
Python invasion has been particularly extensive, notably across South Florida, where a large number of pythons can now be found in the Florida Everglades.[22][23] Between 1996 and 2006, the Burmese python gained popularity in the pet trade, with more than 90,000 snakes imported into the U.S.[24] The current number of Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades may have reached a minimum viable population and become an invasive species. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 was deemed responsible for the destruction of a python-breeding facility and zoo, and these escaped snakes spread and populated areas into the Everglades.[25]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burmese_python

So, not unheard of. But places like the Everglades are very large tracts of wild areas. I remember crossing the last canal on the western edge of Ft. Lauderdale and then aside from the HYW and a rest stop there was nothing but everglades until we reached Naples on the Gulf coast.

And nutria are realtivly small and fast breeding like most rodents. Leopards require a bit more room (bold by me):

External Quote:
Although adaptable to human disturbances, leopards require healthy prey populations and appropriate vegetative cover for hunting for prolonged survival and thus rarely linger in heavily developed areas. Due to the leopard's stealth, people often remain unaware that it lives in nearby areas.[76]
External Quote:
A study of leopards in the Namibian farmlands showed that the size of home ranges was not significantly affected by sex, rainfall patterns or season; the higher the prey availability in an area, the greater the leopard population density and the smaller the size of home ranges, but they tend to expand if there is human interference.[99] Sizes of home ranges vary geographically and depending on habitat and availability of prey. In the Serengeti, males have home ranges of 33–38 km2 (13–15 sq mi) and females of 14–16 km2 (5.4–6.2 sq mi);[100][101] but males in northeastern Namibia of 451 km2 (174 sq mi) and females of 188 km2 (73 sq mi).[102] They are even larger in arid and montane areas.[19] In Nepal's Bardia National Park, male home ranges of 48 km2 (19 sq mi) and female ones of 5–7 km2 (1.9–2.7 sq mi) are smaller than those generally observed in Africa.[103]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopard
 

Looking at the video I really can't see anything other than a black domestic cat. Can anyone work out what the things on the left of the video are?

This article says the video was shot out of the back window of a house in Bayley's Close, Empingham, which might help with getting an idea of size.

I'm also a bit suspicious of videos of "strange phenomena" that end before the phenomenon disappears. Why did she stop filming before the animal disappeared? Perhaps it walked towards the camera and was more obviously a black moggy?
 
It's hard to tell from the blurry vertical video but I think that video must have been taken from the back of one of these houses. It looks like you can see the red roof of the farm building in the distance at times during the video.

1683909586208.png


If so then the cat was probably less that 150 metres away (probably not exactly here but in the ballpark). The blurry nature of the video makes me think it was probably filmed using digital zoom. I'd have thought a panther 150 metres away would be rather more impressive.

1683909979690.png
 
Looking at the video I really can't see anything other than a black domestic cat. Can anyone work out what the things on the left of the video are?

This article says the video was shot out of the back window of a house in Bayley's Close, Empingham, which might help with getting an idea of size.

I'm also a bit suspicious of videos of "strange phenomena" that end before the phenomenon disappears. Why did she stop filming before the animal disappeared? Perhaps it walked towards the camera and was more obviously a black moggy?
My sense is that the offer of a dish of cream would have been appropriate...
 
I'm convinced it's a cat. It moves like a cat. But it's a kitty cat for goodness sake. That happens all the time here in the Southwestern U.S. Reports of a mountain lion in the neighborhood often turn out to be a big orange Tom Cat. The difference is that there really are mountain lions around here.
 
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The name of the organization got me curious. From their web site:
Since 1992, we have carried out extensive research into mystery animals and animal mysteries around the globe. We produce a weekly WebTV show called On The Track (OTT), which covers Cryptozoology, Natural History and Green Issues, all mixed with a little light comedy. We also operate our own publishing house, producing both magazines and books on subjects that would otherwise not see the light of day.

Frankly, I think the idea that hair with leopard DNA was found in the area of the one tiny village where the Centre for Fortean Zoology resided stretches credulity to breaking point.

I suppose a population of black leopards descendent from captive subjects brought back from the British Raj is possible.
More likely the Raj (and colonial administrators in Africa) sent back leopard-skin rugs:

External Quote:
When a 14 year old boy found a big cat skull in a river in Bodmin Moor, it seemed certain to be proof the "Beast" was real. However, the experts at the Natural History Museum proved different . If it had existed at all, it would have been as a rug.
-From BBC Surrey, "The Surrey puma: Fact or fiction?", Heather Driscoll-Woodford, webpage here.
The cynic in me wonders if rugs are the source of the hair found in England with leopard DNA.

It's happened several times in the US. There was nutria, imported for fur and now endemic to a lot of wetland areas
Britain has had wallaby colonies, though the study reported in this newspaper article is a bit optimistic I think
External Quote:

Wild wallabies thriving in the UK with almost 100 sightings since 2008
The 'proficient' escapees were brought to the UK in the early 20th century but ended up in the wild

By Olivia Rudgard,
ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT
4 November 2020 • 6:00pm
From The Daily Telegraph

There is a continuing population centred on Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire, though the I believe zoo staff "help" with food during winter (at least within the zoo grounds). But they seem quite happy in small numbers on the adjoining Dunstable Downs, I saw some myself in the 90's. (The picture is from Whipsnade, 2016).
London is now home to thousands of parakeets!
Whipsnade Wallaby.JPG
London parakeets.jpg



But as NorCal Dave points out,
Leopards require a bit more room
-and they would be noticed.
No-one doubts that there have been wallaby colonies in Britain, or that parakeets have colonised London (or rabbits, Australia)- the evidence is unambiguous.

But I don't think that the evidence is there to suggest a breeding population of leopards (or any other large cat) in Britain, and the coincidence (!) of leopard DNA being found so close to the Centre for Fortean Zoology in 2011 undermines my confidence in the validity of this latest claim.
 
Looking at the video I really can't see anything other than a black domestic cat. Can anyone work out what the things on the left of the video are?
It looks like the white vertical line and black horizontal lines are some sort of fence/gate. But the whole things blurry just like nearly all bigfoot/UFO etc evidence.
I does look like a cat (and not a dog or another creature) And judging based on what I'm guessing to be a post a very big domestic cat, maine coon cats can get to be huge (we had one)
girl-holding-large-maine-coon-cat_Sergey-Ginak_Shutterstock.webp

Though an escaped panther could be possible, as like most big cats they are secretive and cunning creatures that are good at hiding.
 
Why isn't it hiding in that smartphone video?
Assuming for a moment it is indeed a panther, just for the sake of argument, being good at hiding does not mean they never go out and about looking for their elevenses. Being good at hiding /= never show themselves at all, ever.
 
I've stabilised the video (as best as I can in Sony Vegas Pro), plus I adjusted the levels slightly to give a little better contrast in the video. It does not include the first 20 seconds, as that had some very large movement in it that prevented stabilisation.

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/B3eihe7B_v8

To me it looks cat like... as in a domestic cat... possibly named Tiddles.

Can someone remind me how to add the video as video and not as a link. Trying to add i t as Media gives an error that "The specified URL cannot be embedded as media."
 
I should give at least one example...

Kitty reported as mountain lion in OK.

https://bapp.org/updates/general/mistaken-mountain-lion-sightings-have-major-consequences
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We found no tracks consistent with a mountain lion. We found no scat or scent mounds or scratch mounds that are consistent with a mountain lion.

When looking at the photograph, some of the things I used to determine that this was not a mountain lion were the size of the feline in question in relation to other things in the background such as the fence, the trees, the height of the grass and the homes in the background. So the size of the cat in question in relation to the things in the background led us to believe that this was just a normal house cat and not a mountain lion.
 
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It looks like there is a black tank, maybe an oil tank, behind and to the left of the animal. Also looks like a pipe extending to the right and then turning 90 degrees downwards.
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Maybe something like this?
447B578E-F1F8-4A2B-BD8F-44A61BF5A016.jpeg

Obviously tanks come in lots of sizes, so not the most helpful thing as a size comparison.

If the person who took the video was serious about wanting to solve the mystery, they would get a person of known height to go and stand in the same spot and take another video for comparison purposes. But that never seems to happen.
 
Looking at the video I really can't see anything other than a black domestic cat. Can anyone work out what the things on the left of the video are?

This article says the video was shot out of the back window of a house in Bayley's Close, Empingham, which might help with getting an idea of size.

I'm also a bit suspicious of videos of "strange phenomena" that end before the phenomenon disappears. Why did she stop filming before the animal disappeared? Perhaps it walked towards the camera and was more obviously a black moggy?
It looks to me like it's eating grass. Do big cats do that?
 
Off topic but there are loads of strange creatures roaming the land. I remember seeing a wallabie while hiking in the Peak District in the 80's. Turns out there used to a colony of them that had been let out of a model zoo during the war

Wouldn't surprise me if there is the odd big cat out and about.
 
Off topic but there are loads of strange creatures roaming the land. I remember seeing a wallabie while hiking in the Peak District in the 80's. Turns out there used to a colony of them that had been let out of a model zoo during the war

Wouldn't surprise me if there is the odd big cat out and about.
And then you get up to the more remote corners of Scotland ...and there are plenty of those ...where population is very sparse and hiding places are abundant. Animals of all sorts could go unnoticed there for years.

I live in the suburbs between Akron and Cleveland. There are two million people within a thirty mile radius of me. When (as sometimes happens) a bear wanders in from the forests of Pennsylvania, it's noticed, with the newspapers posting daily locations of sightings as it ambles through city streets. It's noticed, but nevertheless it's here, a large, wild, and potentially dangerous animal in an urban environment, so I'll never say never!
 
I've stabilised the video (as best as I can in Sony Vegas Pro), plus I adjusted the levels slightly to give a little better contrast in the video. It does not include the first 20 seconds, as that had some very large movement in it that prevented stabilisation.

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/B3eihe7B_v8

To me it looks cat like... as in a domestic cat... possibly named Tiddles.

Can someone remind me how to add the video as video and not as a link. Trying to add i t as Media gives an error that "The specified URL cannot be embedded as media."
The forum doesn't like the "shorts" url. You need to use the standard www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3eihe7B_v8 url with the code from the shorts url:

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3eihe7B_v8
 
I think it's apropos to this thread to quote from the comments section of the YT video I linked to above - Mountain Lion Sighting In OKC?

Diego Boscan3 years ago

The camera quality is not the same and that is a mountain lion clearly if you look closely


FuchciaSquare

2 years ago
The tail alone was a dead giveaway. That was DEFINITELY a Mountain lion


Brad Buster
1 year ago
I did notice a few things. The grass was cut when the Wildlife test was done. Also the size of the cutout mountain lion was huge compared to the guy. It was the size of a cow. And as someone else mentioned, the tail length and the way it was held is also a pretty good indication that it was a mountain lion. Also that animal was pregnant or had eaten a large meal not long before the photo. And like alien/ufo photos, it was so grainy that it was hard to tell that it was a “house cat”. The grass was much taller and on a house cat it would have been half or so on it’s stomach. I know they don’t want to panic the public and get the posse started, but like me. Many others know what it was, believe what you what.


chochemerlyn

1 year ago
That is without a doubt a mountain lion. You can downplay it all you want. The posture of the butt to the head and muscularity of it is enough to be sure, but the thickness, length and the way the tail is held is a dead giveaway. You would have never seen a cat in proportion to the length of the grass, which was short cut in the later pictures to prove it house cat. It was silly to include a bobcat, since the tail was long. The relativity of the original photo is misunderstood. Take a screenshot and zoom and see for yourself. If you're familiar in what what mountain lion is supposed to look like then you'll know. It looks big and muscular with thick legs and muscular thighs and a big, maybe full belly. Just because they couldn't find scat, scratches or tracks doesn't magically make the obvious cougar and small house or feral cat.


Beyond any reasonable doubt, the animal in this particular case is a kitty, not a mountain lion. And it isn't as if anyone is saying that there's no such thing as a mountain lion. (It's not a ghosts are real/Bigfoot is real kind of thing.) And no one is saying there are no mountain lions in Oklahoma. There are.

Here's just one example of a confirmed sighting.


They don't talk about what the process was in confirming this sighting, but most likely it involved searching for and finding physical traces.

We see a brief example of that kind of thing here.




Yet the people making these comments reject the reasonable conclusion. With a notably hostile tone.

For some reason, some people have a psychological need to fight some kind of weird war against reality, and they won't lose any skirmish no matter how small. It seems that they find an agreed upon reality boring, or even aversive. Or is it a war against other people? Are they simply contrarians? Paranoiacs?

It's not a simple issue.

A striking example: People will insist that "Disco Ball Stars" - bright stars that exhibit chromatic scintillation - are not stars, but something quite mysterious, and often something to be scared of. This is not the usual UFO case involving some transitory sighting. They will hold onto this belief even though they can see the same thing for hours every night for weeks, months and years. They can and often do look at them through optics. They could go and talk to a local amateur astronomy club... but they don't. These folk have easy access to star charts in multiple forms... but do they seek them out? They often have friends and family right there with them telling them exactly what these things are. It's extraordinary.

So, are there black leopards roaming the English countryside? Possible, but because of the lack of physical signs left by real leopards - no tracks, no scat, no territorial markings - and the lack of repeated unambiguous sightings... probably not. The common need to believe in weird things and entertaining stories is a completely adequate explanation for the existence of a fantasy narrative with nothing real behind it.

As already addressed in this thread there are questions surrounding the purported physical sign. So I think we still have to stay in the maybe but probably not reality lane here. As "boring" as that is.
 
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Surely the zoom levels are totally different there? I've done a rough and ready resize to try and match the location and scale of the black "big cat" to the domestic cat picture. (Note that the field edge looks quite different because the crop in the field has been cut down since the first video.)



Given that the black cat is side-on to the camera and the other cat is facing away, the sizes don't look too different. It's hard to get a handle on what the relative distances are - obviously the black cat is further away and should look smaller, but with a zoomed-in image, the difference in distances is probably less than it appears.

On the wider view posted by @deirdre above, both cats were pretty well within the purple oval, so some distance away from the house.

Edit:
Comparing to the black domestic cat instead, I would say they are probably the same animal!

 
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Actually based on the clearer screengrabs of the video from the Facebook post, I am less sure they are the same animal.



The domestic cat looks like a long-haired variety, with a thick tail and legs. The mystery animal seems to have a longer, more slender tail and a more rounded back, but that could just be the posture.

It certainly doesn't look sufficiently larger than a domestic cat to be a "big cat" though!
 
Actually based on the clearer screengrabs of the video from the Facebook post, I am less sure they are the same animal.
yea now that you got the pics lined up (although zoom differences could be messing with us a bit), could be a different cat simply due to alleged size. but now the "big black" cat looks like it could be a tabby to me as i'm seeing colorations in him. i dont think the fluff factor matters too much..the little guy is covered by some grass and if his tail is moving a bit it would fuzz out in pics.

i think my hedges are wrong too ...so im back to 400 feet :) closer to you.

the distance im guesstimating (hard to place area... we got Google Earth shots near that time and im not seeing a tank anywhere (not even far far back ) though could be like 50-100 feet between cats. ???

so..the "panther" would be about 25% bigger than the tabby based on distances. is my math right?

Screenshot 2023-05-14 135111.png

still, panthers arent shaped like cats. so that is for sure a cat cat.

add oh heres the tabby at pic size moved back to where panther is. hes now panther size which is where im getting my 25%. ??
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the distance im guesstimating
Don't worry about it because it isn't the distance we need to know, since it's obviously zoomed. It's the size of the measurable items closest to the animal, which I guess would be the tank and perhaps the hedge.
 
we got Google Earth shots near that time and im not seeing a tank anywhere (not even far far back ) though could be like 50-100 feet between cats. ???
What puzzles me is that there doesn't seem to be any sign of the big square building with the green roof that should be visible roughly where the tank is. Unless it is hidden in a dip below the level of the field?
 
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