A strand of hair found on a fence following a sheep attack suggests that there are large predatory cats prowling the countryside.
It’s a phenomenon that has endured in the British Isles for decades – sightings of large cats such as panthers and lynxes (sometimes referred to as “alien big cats”) that have somehow ended up surviving in the wilds of a country in which they do not belong.
Sightings of such creatures have produced a number of local legends in parts of England, such as the famous ‘Beast of Bodmin Moor’ which gained notoriety after a spate of incidents in 1978.
Now researchers investigating a mystery sheep attack in Gloucestershire have seemingly confirmed that large predatory cats really are roaming the British countryside by conducting a DNA test on a strand of hair found on a fence near to the site.
The research is part of efforts to film a new documentary – Panthera Britannia Declassified – about the phenomenon.
“The DNA was from hairs caught on a barbwire fence where there had been some unusual predatory activity,” said Matthew Everett of Dragonfly Films.
“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.”
Exactly how many such animals are roaming wild, however, remains unclear.