Revealed: A map of where big cats have been spotted in Devon and Cornwall
PUBLISHED: 12:21 19 August 2019
Are there big cats roaming Devon and Cornwall?
We have put together a map of reported sightings from data released as part of a freedom of information request made to Devon and Cornwall Police, revealing the force's logs for big cat sightings in the last few years.
Danny Bamping, of The British Big Cats Society, said between 60 and 70 per cent of sightings were of big black cats but in Devon and Cornwall there was an usually high volume of puma sightings.
He said the number of sightings had prompted the society to invest and develop a specialist trigger camera which will be placed in a secret hotspot in the coming weeks or months.
The most recent sighting reported to the society was of a big black cat in a field in Crediton on Friday (August 9), spotted by someone on a train.
Mr Bamping said: "Over the last few decades we have had a continuous stream of puma sightings, seems to me there is one or two. I think they must be breeding. The Dangerous Animals Act came into force in 1976 and they have a life span of 15 to 20 years so they have to be on the second or third generation. The area between the three moors (Bodmin, Exmoor and Dartmoor) seems to be the hotspot."
Mr Bamping said he estimates there were between 50 and 100 exotic cats across the UK.
Technically be a 'big cat' the animal must be able to roar - this includes lion and tigers - but he said the only type that could possibly be in Britain was a leopard. This means technically most of the big cats reported are classed as 'exotic cats'.
Mr Bamping said: "They can travel around 25 kilometres in a night. So the Beast of Bodmin Moor, Exmoor and Dartmoor could be the same animal."
The British Big Cats Society was founded in 1999 and is based in Plymouth.
Mr Bamping said: "In the 20 years since the society was founded we have found around 20 bodies of dead big cats around the UK. "This included a jungle cat on Dartmoor. People go looking for them all the time, but people need to understand that they are very elusive and nocturnal.
"The only mammal it needs to fear is man."
Have you ever seen a big cat or do you have pictures or videos of one? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add it to our map.
Read our previous story Is a big cat prowling the East Devon countryside? here.