Saturday, 31 January 2015

An older report of two 'big black cats' in Sussex.

"Thanks to Bob Skinner for this:

"About thirty years ago I decided to go down to a private estate on the Ashdown Forest that I had permission to fish & shoot. It was deep winter and snow lay everywhere and the lakes were frozen over completely but I parked at the top of the drive and made my way down to see if I could bag something for the pot. It was a really still day and the snow clung to all the twigs and branches making everything look amazing and the silence was almost stifling, with everything muffled by the deep snow which continued to fall heavily. Mooching around on the ice of the bottom lake and just enjoying being able to look at the forest from a completely different perspective, my ears detected a sound and I looked up the track to see a small herd of roe deer moving quickly through the trees heading towards the path which they crossed without pausing. Realising that something had obviously spooked them, and that no-one else should have been there I looked back towards where that had come through the trees assuming that I would be able to spot whoever was around. What I saw next will stay with me forever as I spotted two large black cats bounding through the snow towards the route the deer had taken. On reaching the path I had a good view of them as they paused before loping across the path and back into the woods where the deer had disappeared.

I got off the ice and made my way up the path to where I had seen them cross and, sure enough, there were large cat spoors amongst the deer slots in the snow at the edge of the path but as I stood there the falling snow was rapidly covering all evidence up. The light was fading rapidly as I made my way back to the car but I vividly remember my laboured breathing condensing in front of me and thinking that I must be getting unfit. It was only when I was sitting back in my vehicle I realised that it wasn't the slope that had made my heart pound but it was what I had just witnessed. Me spooked by something in the English countryside, I'd never, ever thought that would happen!

As a postscript, I continued to visit this private estate for several years and spent many happy days and nights out there alone and whilst I regularly saw loads of deer I never again saw a shred of evidence that big cats were, or had ever been, at large there."

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Seaford 'panther' sighting...

A black leopard sighting has been reported to me this evening (20/1/2015) from near Seaford, in Sussex. A motorist was driving home from Seaford towards Cuckmere River when according to the witness, "a very big black cat casually stepped out of the bushes along the opposing side of the road and walked out right in front of me - it must have been 20ft away I could and still can't quite believe it! As I got to maybe 18-15 ft away it upped its pace and jumped up the bank to left of the road and disappeared across the pathway."

Over the past five or so years there has been a rise in sightings from the Seaford area; although there have been numerous sightings reported from the area over the last fifty or so years. Statistics based on our files suggest a small population of melanistic leopards which have used the railway lines, rivers and notably Seaford Golf Course for navigation. With Friston Forest close by there is plenty of foliage for a large cat or two to disappear into and with Castle Hill Nature Reserve and the forest flanking the area of sightings; it's no real shock to find such a concentrated area of reports. we'd also be interested to find out whether Drusillas Zoo have ever had anyone report a large cat in the vicinity.
Large cats are often reported around local zoo parks, attracted by smells and possibly cats housed at the parks although as  far as we're aware Drusillas only keeps servals. Even so, one huge patch of woodland and forest provides a perfect green belt for an elusive cat if it wanted to makes it way through to Ditchcling, Portslade and Hove golf course where a few years ago now a professional golfer reported to us that he'd seen a large cat one afternoon whilst he was practising. If one follows the greenbelt - taking in Steyning, Patching, Arundel, Midhurst and cat on the hunt could easily end up in Hampshire within a few weeks. The term 'looking for a needle in a haystack' certainly applies here...

Monday, 29 December 2014

From the archives: The Gardener who was attacked by a lynx!

In 2001 a gardener contacted Lewes police in Sussex claiming he'd been attacked by a cat which was "three times bigger than a domestic cat". He had disturbed the animal whilst clearing a thicket when the confrontation occurred; resulting in the man apparently grabbing the cat around the neck before it made off. Whether the incident actually happened we'll never really know, but here's the article in three parts for your perusal:

Friday, 12 September 2014

Thursday, 17 July 2014

'Big cat' sighted by train passenger:

From The Argus 8th July 2014:

'TRAIN passenger saw what he believes was a “puma” type cat.
Kevin Tully was travelling with his wife Amanda Zoe, 49, when he spotted what he believed to be a big cat near Southease railway station, between Newhaven and Lewes. Mr Tully, of Beacon Road, Seaford, said: “There was a big cat quite close to the railway line, nestling in next to a hedge.
“It was circling in the way cats tend to do before they settle down somewhere.
“What was really weird was that it was in a field of sheep. “The hairs on my neck stood up.
I did try to point it out to my wife but we had already gone past where it was.”
Mr Tully, aged 50, who is a technology teacher, told of the sighting after dog walker Dianne Lonnon came across a “spotty brown coloured cat” in nearby Cantercrow Hill in Denton, near Newhaven. Mrs Lonnon, who has been on safari twice, said she thought the cat looked like a leopard but that details were difficult to remember as she was so scared.
Her sighting was noted by a Sussex Police wildlife officer at the time.
Mr Tully believes he did not see a leopard. He said: “It didn’t look like a leopard, it was sleeker and smaller.
“It looked like a dirty puma to me. It was the size of a puma but it had markings on.
“My wife told me it must have been a big dog, but its movements were definitely those of a cat. I saw it for at least five seconds.”
Mr Tully used to live near Paignton Zoo in Devon.
He added: “I used to go and see the pumas there and funnily enough my brother used to look after one in the days that wild animals could be kept as pets.
“I didn’t report it because I thought people would reckon I was mad.”
Dozens of big cat sightings have been made to Sussex Police over the past decade, including a suspected sighting of a lion.'

Monday, 30 June 2014

Recent sightings from Sussex:

Recent Sussex sighting from the Argus 24/6/2014:
"A DOG walker dialled 999 to report seeing a leopard at a beauty spot.
Dianne Lonnon was walking her terrier-collie cross called James in Cantercrow Hill, Denton, near Newhaven, when they came across the “spotty brown coloured big cat” just in front of her.
Mrs Lonnon, 66, said: “I was just yards away.
“It was in front of us and looking away so I don’t think it saw us and I was just praying it didn’t turn round. I was just hoping the dog didn’t bark. “It was walking in front of us and just walked away. We were heading towards it so I turned around and hoped it didn’t smell my fear. “I didn’t even look behind me I was so scared.
“Then I ran home with the dog and phoned 999. They told me I had to call the non-emergency number and were asking me lots of questions like what shape its ears were and whether it was bigger than a Labrador.
“Its tail was right up and I can’t remember what its ears looked like because I was so scared and keen to get out of there.
“I’ve been on safari twice and it looked just like a leopard.
“I saw it long enough to know it was definitely a cat.
“It was right in Denton village. I have seen lots of people riding bikes and up there with kids and I’m terrified. I just wanted to tell everyone it could be out there.”
A spokeswoman for Sussex Police: “A sighting of a large brown wild cat with lines on its tail was reported to police on Sunday at 9.44am by a dog walker who had spotted it in a field north of St Leonards Road, Newhaven.
“The sighting has been noted by the wildlife officer for the area.”
She added that if anyone spots a suspected leopard or other big cat they should call the 101 police non-emergency number. But if you are being attacked or in fear of attack call 999."

Friday, 10 January 2014

Lack of updates...

The lack of updates on this blog have come about due to other commitments but sightings do still persist of so-called Sussex related 'big cats' with two more being reported this year, one in the region of Devil's Dyke and another in East Sussex at Hastings, both black leopards. In December 2013 there were eleven sightings reported to KENT BIG CAT RESEARCH with most of these being leopard and lynx, and only one report of a puma.