X Close

Black panthers are roaming Britain We have never been more vulnerable to conspiracy

'I still remember her magnificent tail.' Getty Images

'I still remember her magnificent tail.' Getty Images


February 23, 2024   6 mins

Last summer, I was driving along a country road at dusk when a great, black cat appeared in front of me. Far longer than any Labrador, it slunk demurely across the path and into a hedgerow. I turned at once to my stunned companion. We both knew instinctively who she was: the fabled black panther of Oxfordshire.

I still remember her magnificent tail vanishing into a tangle of leaves. Or at least, I think I do. It’s all slightly hazy. But I don’t believe she was just a large badger, as one incredulous friend suggested. Though as a Londoner, my idea of a panther (or a badger, for that matter) is probably rather like Carpaccio’s idea of the lion of Saint Jerome. Neither of us had much experience to work with.

Perhaps I was willing it to be true, but no other explanation seemed to fit. And I wasn’t the only one to think so. Only yesterday, a construction worker claimed to have seen another legendary leopard, the Beast of Cumbria, while strolling across a field. The British Big Cats Society, meanwhile, receives reports of between 300 and 500 sightings per year, the vast majority regarding black panthers. But though I was in good company, it was still bewildering for me — a liberal “normie” in every respect — to face such a mystical assault on my Common Sense.

Believers squabble over how big cats ended up roaming the Cotswolds, but most trace the story back to the Sixties. Then, exotic pets were the height of fashion, with Harrods stocking a fine range of big cats, alligators, and even a baby elephant, which Ronald Reagan bought in 1967. But that all changed with the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976, when, at least according to big cat enthusiasts, bohemians secretly released their pets into the wild to dodge the new ownership fees. Some later confessed. And in 1980, a puma was captured in the Scottish Highlands.

This theory does, admittedly, have one slight flaw: there has never been any conclusive evidence of a big cat colony in Britain. And that’s not for lack of state cooperation. In 1983, 50 of our toughest Royal Marines, aided by a pack of beagles, went hunting for the Beast of Exmoor — but they found not a whisker. Later, in 1994, after a grisly sheep massacre was blamed on the Beast of Bodmin Moor, the then-junior agricultural minister, Nicholas Soames, commissioned a six-month inquiry into the matter. The report concluded that there was “no verifiable evidence for the presence of a ‘big cat’”. More recently, in 2012, a National Trust-commissioned DNA test into a suspicious roe deer carcass, which bore the marks of a ravenous feline, pointed to a lowly fox.

And while there is some talk among Big Cat trackers of state cover-ups and leopard corpses in government freezers, this is limited to an extreme fringe. What is fascinating, in fact, is how this theory has remained largely localised, unpoliticised, and untainted. Unlike UFO sightings, it has not yet cascaded into a sinister global conspiracy, nor has it set the internet aflame with coded talk of malign forces: the World Economic Forum, the Great Reset and the global capitalist elite.

This isn’t because Big Cat theory lacks the right components. If I were to conjure my own conspiracy, I dare say I wouldn’t find it too difficult. I would simply invent a cabal of rogue Rewilders, living in splendid stately homes in the Cotswolds, who had concocted a Plot to release panthers into the wild to wipe out local livestock — and, in the spirit of the Highland Clearances, drive honest farmers from the land. These wicked Rewilders — all Davos Men, of course — would then appropriate the empty farmland, fill it with enormous peat bogs, and live royally off the lavish government Net Zero subsidies that would soon roll in. Given the scarcity of land and livestock, the poor would be herded into packed cities and forced to eat mealworm porridge instead of meat, while the rich would feast on free-roaming venison and frolic in fields of wildflowers.

As with all the best conspiracies, mine would contain an acorn of truth. Many British farmers now fear for their livelihoods, as the Government rolls out a radical post-Brexit farming subsidy scheme that rewards green initiatives such as planting woodland or rewilding. In other words, it pays farmers to cease farming. Indeed, in order to meet the Government’s environmental targets, a quarter of UK farmland will need to be reassigned. All I’d need to do is pour this very real crisis into my potion of venomous half-truths. And there is no shortage of rage to ignite: farmers are already blockading European cities and hurling eggs at the European Parliament. How long until British farmers join the resistance?

My fantastical Plot would perfectly embody Richard Hofstadter’s definition of the “paranoid style”: “a vast and sinister conspiracy, a gigantic and yet subtle machinery of influence set in motion to undermine and destroy a way of life”. But as the real Big Cat theory has not yet spiralled in this manner, it seems more like a lost fragment of folklore than a conspiracy.

“Big Cat theory seems more like a lost fragment of folklore than a conspiracy.”

There is a certain romance in this idea. While British folklore largely died out after the Enlightenment, it still evokes a pre-industrial age before trains, television and 4G stripped the nation of its cultural diversity, belittled its local beliefs, customs and dialects, and forged a Great British Monoculture. Those were the days when Britain’s peripheries weren’t pining to resemble its centre; when people didn’t drink from the same fountain of knowledge, but from their own unwieldy springs. And if hobgoblins were said to wander the forests of one remote county, an outsider would hardly dare to suggest otherwise.

It was a time most tenderly depicted by George Eliot in Silas Marner. She writes that, “to the peasants of old times, the world outside their own direct experience was a region of vagueness and mystery”. And her heart aches for those rare few who are forced to leave their native towns for a “new land where the beings around them know nothing of their history, and share none of their ideas — where their mother earth shows another lap, and human life has other forms than those on which their souls have been nourished”. It was as if other realms were ruled by different gods.

This dappled land didn’t just vanish. It was crushed by middle-class Victorians in their quest to rid the nation of uncivilised superstition, and to forever replace the scourge of Magic with Enlightenment Science and Reason. The idea that “primitive” belief systems lingered not just in the colonies, but at home too, haunted the intellectuals of the age — and led to the creation of folklore as a field of study. It ultimately came down to class: the historian Thomas Waters argues that there was a “growing sense that supernatural credulity was a distinctly proletarian trait”. And that middle-class Victorians, having been enfranchised in the 1832 Great Reform Act, were seeking to define themselves through their devotion to reason.

We can see Big Cat theory, then, as a vestige of this bygone world; a bottled cry against industrialisation. After all, as The Economist’s Jem Bartholomew argues, “the mythical beasts of the British imagination often appear at moments of modernisation”. Early sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, for instance, coincided with an upgrade to the Highlands road network. And after the Second World War, fearsome felines seem to have kept local tabloids in business, from the Beast of Bodmin Moor and the Cougar of Cupar to the Fen Tiger, the Nottingham Lion and the Sydenham Panther. Nowadays, when most British children will never know the song of a turtle dove or the scuffling of a hedgehog, the image of a panther padding over a neurotically well-tended lawn is a bewitching one.

Yet what if we have lost something more than folklore? By eroding local beliefs, ridiculing superstition, and insisting on uniformity of rational thought, we have perhaps made ourselves more, not less, vulnerable to conspiracy. Of course, the paranoid style is as old as time, its long cast of villains assuming many masks: Jesuits, Templars, Freemasons, global Capitalists, Communists. But I can’t help but wonder whether we have created a belief system so rigid and coherent that the slightest doubt can cause it all to crumble.

There once was a time when you could believe in witches, fairies, and hobgoblins, and still have absolute faith in God, Science, and your King. There were many contradictory authorities and infinite ways of seeing. But now, truth has become an all-or-nothing game: if you start to question the “Establishment” in one respect — whether over Covid vaccines, 5G or urban planning — the chances are it won’t be long until you’re drawn into an upside-down, Manichean world of conspiracy. And in this dark wonderland, as Hofstadter describes, there is “no room for mistakes, failures, or ambiguities”; everything is evidence of malicious intent. To the paranoid soul, the flick of a panther’s tail at twilight is enough to cast doubt over the entire system.


Olivia Ward-Jackson is a Commissioning Editor at UnHerd.

Olivia_WJ98

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

59 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 months ago

I like this article, thank you!

For some reason, it brought back a flood of memories of watching Cat People in 1982 in Manchester, with the eye-wateringly lovely Nastassja Kinski and Malcolm McDowell in the lead roles, and that David Bowie track, but the movie themes are very dark. Just where the years have rolled away, I cannot answer.

https://youtu.be/O6As2C5xM9w?feature=shared

My own Big Cat theory is that big cats can be dangerous. Yes, big cats can be dangerous, but a little p***y never hurt anybody.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
2 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Thanks for the chuckle!

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
3 months ago

Years ago, I worked for a biotech company handling their hazardous waste. This occasionally involved the disposal of mildly radioactive materials. While I was doing my rounds, I could always sense when I’d entered a room in which radiological materials were stored, even if I’d never been in it before and there were no visible warnings or signs. There was a sinister…vibe, for want of a better term, in the air. A feeling that the safety had been sucked out of the world, even if only slightly, and that I was treading on unhallowed ground. Now, I consider myself to be a fairly rational-minded person, but I’ve encountered enough things that border on the uncanny to not rule anything out. I won’t believe in ghosts until I catch one in my teeth, but that doesn’t mean I disbelieve, either. I wear an amethyst pendant to remind me to stay sober, not because I believe, like the ancient Greeks who named the stone, that it prevents drunkenness, but back when I was still using, I noticed that if I was wearing my pendant, the hemp took longer to kick in than otherwise, and sometimes not at all. The world is a strange place. Let’s keep it that way.
(Oh, and the alien big cats? Coming to take jobs British cats won’t do, clearly. Most of them in the hospitality and construction sectors.)

J Bryant
J Bryant
3 months ago

Years ago, I did a PhD in biological chemistry and worked for a biotech company. I believe I had a fairly good grasp of the science. Before I quit and pursued another line of work, I concluded, among other things sacred and profane, that the collective “we” know almost nothing about how a living organism works. The deeper we dig, the more we learn, the more complex the picture becomes, and the more improbable biological life becomes. The continued existence of a biological organism really doesn’t make sense.
I was brought up in a time when organized religion was the norm, but I found most of it unconvincing. If I was to find my way back to religious belief, it would be through the sense of wonder and incredulity at the improbable fact of life.
Oh, and well done to the author for an engaging and thought-provoking article.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
3 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Why should you even want to “find your way back to religious belief” – as if it were a yearning to do so? The complexity of biological existence, in effect, further demonstrates that NO underlying process of design exists; that if a deity were involved, it had rather massively over-engineered something to make humans scratch their heads because their brains and senses couldn’t fathom it? What an absurdity. Any deity found to be doing such a thing would have “too much time on its hands” – when, of course, time itself is subject to physical laws.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

If it’s an all-powerful deity, then it creates time, doesn’t it? I think the Christian one is supposed to have.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
3 months ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

One would expect it to, yes. It’s a highly anthropomorphic idea, as the whole concept of a deity is.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Unless of course we ARE made in the image and likeness of a deity who made us 😉

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
2 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

Gawd – I hope not !! must be a pretty primitive god !!

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
2 months ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

I understood that Time is part of the fabric of the universe – so if there is anything outside of the universe, then is it not outside of time? Mind you Christians say God is within his universe.
As for wanting to find your way back to belief. Why would you not want to believe IF there was in fact a God? Actually you don’t need to answer that. The Christian concept of a last judgement and ultimate justice is, I’m sure, enough for most people to hope there isn’t a Christian God.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
2 months ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

There’s no such thing as “time”, humans invented it. So it wouldn’t be something that a deity need worry about.

Point of Information
Point of Information
2 months ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

Not per the Bible’s Book of Genesis, the first few chapters of which evidently come from (at least) two different traditions one of which isn’t monotheistic.

In Genesis and Exodus, although God’s followers should only worship Him, He observes other divine beings which are worshipped by humans, sometimes in tandem with Himself. In fact, it is clear that the people writing and listening to the older scriptures are supposed to believe in other divine beings (Baal and/or Satan being the most noted examples), they’re just not supposed to worship them.

This being the case multiple divine beings could have been involved in the creation of Time, although only God for Night and Day (so measurable time).

Also not sure there is a “Christian deity” as such, unless you distinguish the Old Testament God from the Holy Trinity – but Christians believe that these are one and the same.

Glynis Roache
Glynis Roache
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Perhaps you need to explain your understanding of how the universe should work, if it were designed by a deity with wits, to people who have spent years thinking about this exact thing. You could try Dr James M.Tour of Rice University, Professor of Chemistry, Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, Dr John C. Lennox of Oxford, Professor of Mathematics, and Francis S. Collins, the former director of the Human Genome Project whose work on DNA took him from being an atheist to becoming a believer.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
3 months ago
Reply to  Glynis Roache

I’ve spent my whole life thinking about it, and yes, i’m able to think very clearly and deeply. My own conclusions aren’t dependent on the citations of others, but on my own experience.

People tend to cite sources to bolster their opinions and beliefs; i’ve read widely and deeply too, thanks.

Glynis Roache
Glynis Roache
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Then we must accept that our respective reading and deep, clear thinking and life experience have brought us to very different conclusions. 

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
3 months ago
Reply to  Glynis Roache

The inability to accept this is a deep flaw in our post-post-modern culture. The search for singular Truths hasn’t worked but has us at each other’s throats.

Jae
Jae
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

But you’ve learned nothing you can share?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
2 months ago
Reply to  Jae

He explained quite succinctly what he had learned.

Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

“The complexity of biological existence, in effect, further demonstrates that NO underlying process of design exists”. That’s a hypothesis? a profession of faith? An established fact? A proclamation? An opening statement? Just asking’ .

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Story

He has successfully ‘Falsified’ that which by definition cannot be falsified – so obviously has done some really good deep thinking.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Well said.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I hope she takes the story to where it really needs to go:

”The Lizards of Davos”

Stories of seeing all the people in a room seemingly have tails – yet they do not show up in pictures taken surreptitiously. Mentions of quickly turning a corner and spotting someone with eyes on the side of their head and a great many teeth, who quickly turns away and darts off into an alley….

Too many to not think it worth looking into… but quietly,,, best not let anyone know what you are there to find….. for prudence, some rumors exist of other things……

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
3 months ago

Presumably the West of Cornwall must feel like unhallowed ground too! A two week holiday there will give you an extra radiation exposure of 0.19mSv*. As it happens 0.18mSv is the average extra radiation exposure a worker in a nuclear plant gets in a whole year. So being in West Cornwall is as radioactively intense as walking round Sellafield.

*West Cornwall average annual exposure is 7.2mSv. Average UK exc. Cornwall is 2.3mSv. Difference is 4.9mSv or 0.09mSv per week.

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
2 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

That explains the saying that Cornwall is like the toes of the Christmas stocking-full of nuts
..

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
2 months ago

Norms were abnormal for you?

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
3 months ago

In your conspiracy theory, you missed out that the British people would be easier for the Russians and Chinese to kill in a war if they were all living in cities.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
3 months ago

Is that why Russia and China have cities; to make their populations more vulnerable?

Jim C
Jim C
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Are the Russians and Chinese doing their best to herd their citizenry into cities, the way Agenda 2030 encourages compliant Western governments to herd “their” citizens into denser conurbations in the name of fighting the all-devouring climate crisis?

Frankly, I think it’s much more about Western authorities wanting ever more control over their hapless subjects than it is about Russians and Chinese somehow persuading them into making it easier to kill us in the event of a war.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago

Stop Press: Huey Newton seen in Cotswolds pub!

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
3 months ago

Living close to the moor for over a decade, the fabled ‘Beast of Bodmin’ was treated as something to entertain the emmets with.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 months ago

I have been sin-binned, for making a silly joke!
UnHerd censors: seriously?!

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

And proof of my theory that UnHerd have outsourced the IT function to some Indian outfit: you can see my comment (including the silly joke) if you order Comments by Oldest instead of Most Voted, although the voting icons are disabled.

Edit: someone’s noticed and zapped that. Now you have to order by Newest and then scroll to the bottom. Indian IT!!

Edit2: and sort by Oldest working again! Coding got bugs Indian IT! I should be charging you for testing your UI!!

Edit3: and my comment is out of the sin-bin!

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
3 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

The last sentence alone should propel the comment to the top but it seems UH will not allow such hilarity.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Thank you Martin!

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
3 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Yesterday, all the likes/dislikes on the site were mysteriously nuked.

Jim C
Jim C
3 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

The comment section does seem a little… idiosyncratic.

Is it part of the “paranoid style” to suspect it might be part of a censorship regime?

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim C

Personally, I think it’s bog standard poor quality IT

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
3 months ago

I’ve copied the article so I can refer back to it when I read somewhere, in a few months, sections of it quoted out of context as evidence of a rewilding conspiracy.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I did note that the author referred to this:

in order to meet the Government’s environmental targets, a quarter of UK farmland will need to be reassigned

Unfortunately, there has been little pushback on this. As a nation that is a net importer of food and with a destructive land war ongoing in a major grain producing region, you might think that such feather-brained schemes would be binned, and quickly. Lip service is barely even paid to food security.

Jim C
Jim C
3 months ago

Don’t worry, now that our means of exchange (ie, currency) is completely untethered from gold, the Bank of England can just print as much food as we need.

Chris Amies
Chris Amies
2 months ago

and yet people point to the lack of biodiversity in the UK in particular. “Nature-depleted” is a popular expression. And they could start by making water companies clean up the rivers and other waterways.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I wait for her article picture above to be on the Daily Mail with the headline

”Unherd writer photographs Panther of Upton Bridge”, or where ever it was she saw it in the road. Comments below the article will include a couple who always thought there was one in the area from a story their neighbor once told them.

Personally I think they do exist. Why not?

Adam M
Adam M
3 months ago

Excellent and thought-provoking little article. We could do with more of this on Unherd.
I think there’s a general acceptance now in the culture that we’ve passed peak atheism and things are now sliding back towards the mythical and religious. The paranoid conspiracy theory sub-culture of the last 20 years has certainly been a reaction to peak rationalism.
As a side note, when I was younger, I always bought into the idea that people only cling to religious belief and superstition as comforting delusion. I’ve more of less reversed this opinion now. I think a rational conception of the world is both comforting and depressing and the opposite is both terrifying and exhilarating.

Rohan Moore
Rohan Moore
3 months ago

What’s astonishing — with it being in the public domain that the FBI planted news stories to discredit Jean Seberg, the CIA developed psyops and used them on their own people, and, more recently, that a department of the British Army worked with Google to suppress Peter Hitchens’ YouTube exposure during Covid — is that ‘conspiracy theory’ remains a pejorative.

Jim C
Jim C
3 months ago
Reply to  Rohan Moore

It’s how the Establishment gets non-thinkers to dismiss ideas that don’t suit the Establishment.

Neo-Nazis in Ukraine? Ridiculous! Ignore all those pre-invasion articles lamenting the prevalence and influence of Neo-Nazis in Ukraine, you conspiracy theorist!

ChilblainEdwardOlmos
ChilblainEdwardOlmos
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim C

Down the Memoryhole!

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 months ago

I’m not sure if we are, as the title suggests, more vulnerable to conspiracy. The last few years have pretty much destroyed the concept of conspiracy theory as too many of them turned out to be true. In a different vein, I have always had a thing for big cats. They are beautiful animals, to be appreciated from afar.

Andrew Mckay
Andrew Mckay
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Agree with your closing comment. I remember Chris Packham’s series ‘X Creatures’ (1998?), and the episode on the possibility of big cats in the UK. (As far as I recall, btw, he concluded that their existence was possible, but not likely).

Anyway, he interviewed a group of nutters, frankly, who were committed to keeping the public safe by hunting the cats down. They were a comically unimpressive bunch, led by a guy wearing army camouflage gear even though I suspect he’d never been anywhere near the forces, and about as likely to successfully hunt anything bigger than a hedgehog as I am to fly to the moon.

My sympathies, if I had to choose between this ragbag of fantasists and the beautiful animals they thought they were chasing, were entirely with the cats.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Mckay

Ironically in or about 1998 I commuted daily (West to East in the mornings) along the M4 to a contract role in Reading. Passing the services at Membury usually about 6:15am.
One summer day I spotted a few hundred yards ahead, on the hard shoulder, a large black object (I initially thought a truck tyre) lying there. Nothing one would normally worry about given it was off the carriageway, BUT it seemed to be a larger tyre than I’d seen before. So I studied it on and off (as well as keeping an eye on the road) as I approached and then passed by. It was about 1/4 mile West of the Membury services. The closer I got the more intrigued I became, because it was NOT circular. Next I thought it a roll of some black material, possibly fallen off the back of a wagon. The closer I got the more I realised how odd it was. As I got closer there appeared to be a few feet of of black pipe that had come loose at one end, So I then thought it was a role of piping. Only to be stunned to realise the closer I got, that I was looking at the body of a VERY large Jet black cat. I passed it and thought ‘wow’ that must be a Puma AND that WILL be in the news!
Despite the then current interest in Pumas, NOT a word could I find about that dead black cat in the news. Not only that, BUT next day, there was no body of a black cat west of Membury, in fact there may not have been one on the way home, but the vision across the motorway wasn’t clear in the peak traffic coming home in the evening.
Make of that what you will, but it was there and was never mentioned as far as I could find anywhere. So either these cats are VERY few in number or so wary of humans they stay well away from the woodlands walks we take or else they weren’t news around Membury at that time. Of course there could also have been a passing truck driver now with a beautiful stuffed Puma in his possession.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
2 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

What a great build-up. If only you had pulled over and flung it in the boot! You would have settled one of the great British mysteries! Assuming it was a dead panther, of course.

Chris Amies
Chris Amies
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Mckay

I’m not saying they never existed, but animals can look far larger if you aren’t expecting them. I once watched a fox cross my back garden and suddenly leap up the fence. At that moment it looked the size of a German Shepherd, even though I knew it wasn’t.

Janet G
Janet G
2 months ago

Panthers in the bush – we’ve got them in Australia too! One theory is American troops left them behind after ww2.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
2 months ago

“I still remember her magnificent tail”. The cat in the photo is a male.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
2 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Tut, tut – it self-identifies as female.

T Doyle
T Doyle
2 months ago

Poor article. She saw a big cat or didn’t?

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
2 months ago
Reply to  T Doyle

Perhaps the nuance is lost on you.

Paul Hemphill
Paul Hemphill
2 months ago

Quite a lovely and amusing article. I wondered if young Olivia was having us on. But I’d go with the folklore theory – as many comments say, there are stranger things in heaven and on earth that we cannot comprehend. A large animal was recently seen in the bush just outside Bellingen, here on the north coast of New South Wales and folk speculated on social media that it was a Big Cat. However, feral cats Down Under can be enormous – if they survive, that is.
I liked these comments: “
”I think there’s a general acceptance now in the culture that we’ve passed peak atheism and things are now sliding back towards the mythical and religious. The paranoid conspiracy theory sub-culture of the last 20 years has certainly been a reaction to peak rationalism”.
“I’ve copied the article so I can refer back to it when I read somewhere, in a few months, sections of it quoted out of context as evidence of a rewilding conspiracy”.
And
“I’m not saying they never existed, but animals can look far larger if you aren’t expecting them. I once watched a fox cross my back garden and suddenly leap up the fence. At that moment it looked the size of a German Shepherd, even though I knew it wasn’t”.

ChilblainEdwardOlmos
ChilblainEdwardOlmos
2 months ago

It’s the Hounds of the Baskervilles you need look out for!

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
2 months ago

I spend a fair bit of time in the Canadian wilderness where the cougar population density is very high. I routinely see bears, deer, and other animals. However I have never seen a cougar. They are very stealthy. It is entirely believable to me that a big cat could live in rural England without being seen very often. They are also more likely to be killing rabbits and other small game than livestock.