In the last couple of days Steve Wills an admin on our Curious Fortean Facebook group brought a recent news article to me attention. The article in question comes from the South Somerset News website and relates the recent sighting of a what the witness describes as a “large cat, it was jet black and it was prowling – just like you see on those TV wildlife programmes by David Attenborough”.
Tim Peters and his wife Patrica were walking their dog on Ham Hill near the Somerset town of Yeovil when Tim spotted the creature at a distance, thinking at first it was a large dog but soon realised that what he was seeing was defiantly no canine “ I’m pretty convinced by what I saw and NO – I hadn’t been drinking! When I got home I looked on the internet at some big cat photos and I reckon it resembled a panther.”
He went on to add
“I looked round to make sure our dog hadn’t spotted it because I didn’t want him chasing after a panther, but when I looked up again the animal had gone. It was there one minute and gone the next – just annoyed I couldn’t have got a better look.”
Now this encounter doesn’t sound like it went on for a great deal of time, but how long do you really need to recognise a big cat, there is nothing in the UK that resembles such a creature at all and I think there is no one in this country or anywhere else for that matter who would mistake a dog for a large cat although they both have four legs and a tail their size, body shape and movements are vastly different. The article in the South Somerset News also mentions local shipping magnate Sir Benjamin Slade who resides not to far away in the country seat of Mansel House. My good friend and all round explorer of the unexplained Ed Pope and myself paid a visit to Sir Benny’s place a couple of years ago and had a chat with him and were shown around the grounds by his game keeper both of whom were convinced that there was a big cat in the area. A kitchen porter even managed to take a snap of the creature whilst he was taking the bins out.
The game keeper took us to where the body of one of their prized sheep had been left. The amazing thing was the sheep which I’m told is a rare breed was taken from its paddock over a good sized electric fence and about a 1/4 of a mile down the road where it had been hidden in a small copse. Sadly the body was just to decomposed for us to make any determination as to its cause of death but it looked like it could of had some sort of neck wound, but we could be sure. Now as far as I am aware sheep are unable to get themselves over an electric fence and then kill themselves. So the only other option from the animal kingdom would be a dog, but it was very untypical of a dog kill as they will often kill and chow down on their prey on the same spot and may even take down more than one just for fun working themselves into a frenzy. The act of taking the prey away from the kill sight is very reminiscent of a leopard, but to keep an open mind, that is just educated speculation.
Whilst talking with the game keeper, who claimed to have had a few of his own sightings on the grounds, he mentioned that he had photos of a similar sheep kill that I have included below.
Ed and I have looked into a few more cases in somerset including one in the area of Shapwick where we met up with two independent witnesses the very next day after the sighting. One witness claimed to have seen a large black cat very late one night climbing in to a hedge row. She had a clear view of it as she caught it in the head lights of her car. The next witness saw a large black cat like animal just out side her house a little future up the road certainly no more than 1/4 of a mile away, just a few hours after the first sighting
I could regal you with more tales of giant felines in the area and believe me there are many but for the purpose of brevity i’ll keep this short and let you discover those for yourselves should be have a mind to.
Of course with this being fairly local to The Curious Fortean HQ we will be launching an investigation around the area of Ham Hill, setting camera traps and looking for other physical evidence such as prints, kills, scat and hair samples, and of course we will be reporting straight back to you guys should we find anything. Stay tunes folks.
And remember big cats can be dangerous but a little pussy never hurt anyone 😉