I'm sure there are a few sceptics, detractors and the like among the people who, over the years have read my articles, seen me talks etc. I do wish more detractors and sceptics would come forward with their criticism's rather than hide behind a pseudonym to vent their frutrations at my words. It's a shame that people can't be more civil and simply come forward and talk of their issues, or at least ask questions, which is why on this blog I'm trying to appease everyone with snippets of info and evidence. Mind you, it's always nice when sceptical folk have an encounter with a 'big cat'. Three cases spring to mind over the last few years. One such report concerned a doctor, who, despite all his qualifications, as one of the most ignorant people I ever met. He once told me that he knew everything about British wildlife and constantly pooh-poohed the idea of exotic cats roaming the UK. "I've nevers een one..." he told me time and time again. Sadly, the guy became so angry over the years at my claims, that he began to get rather personal, which I find very weird. Recently I've had a few people telling me they are going to shoot these big cats if I don't do something about it - one chap stated that he was worried about children being killed - but surely a trigger-happy lunatic attempting to shoot a big cat is far more dangerous, especially if he ends up hunting his quarry and injuring it. Anyway, back to the doctor - this guy would ring me time and time again, telling me there were no 'big cats' in the wild, and that he'd never once seen any sign. Now, when I give talks, or write articles etc, I can only put or offer material within the space I'm allowed - but often I show photo's of sheep kills, scat, and whilst I'm happy for someone to say these animals don't exist - my argument is, "Okay then, so if a big cat didn't leave this sheep up a tree or didn't leave that paw print then what did ?" and that's when the sceptics get rather angry, and it's all rather petty.
So, this doctor, time and time again began persecuting my words and my research until one afternoon when he went for a countryside stroll with his Alsatian dog. It was a warm, clear day in Ashford and the path he'd taken was like any other path - bracken and brambles either side, a frequently used route by him and many other ramblers. The trouble is, on this occasion, at about 2pm his dog saw something that the doctor probably, deep down, never wanted to see - it was a black leopard sitting on the pathway about 80 yards ahead. The doctor so wanted it to be another dog, but his own dog began to growl, and then whimper and stood firm between his legs, refusing to move. The doctor tried to drag the dog along the path, refusing to believe what he was seeing, in his own ignorance he persevered along the wooded path until he got to within about 50 yards and at that point the animal up ahead shidted and was now standing on all fours. The doctor - especially due to his nature expertise which he was all to eager to tell me off, could see that the animal was around 5ft long and the tail seemed to swoop down behind it. The tail was thick. The shoulders were muscular, the head square and flat, there was no muzzle. The Alsatian continued to resist and the animal up ahead seemed to casually look at the frightened pair - then look away - and then back at them before slinking nonchalantly off into the undergrowth.
It took the doctor 4 months to phone me, but even then his voice was full of...what I can only describe as anger. "Someone probably just let a leopard go," he snorted. I tried to be polite, and so I tried to get every detail from him, distance, size of animal, and asked him was he sure it wasn't a feral cat, and it was that comment which seemed to irk him the most, but now he understood the sort of comments I'd received over the years. Even so, deep down I was actually happy for him and hoe that he'd felt privileged as to what he'd seen rather than simply angry with me because he was wrong. On another occasion a man from Meopham stated quite categorically that there were no 'big cats' in Britain, until he saw one, with a whole group of people whilst on a ramble through the woods of Meopham, not far from Gravesend. Again, it was a daylight sighting, and the group had observed the animal up ahead sitting on the pathway. At first the witness thought it was an Alsatian - or hoped it was - until it moved off slowly into the bushes, but at least this witness wasn't full of such contempt, he was oberjoyed he'd seen the animal. Another case actually involved a relative of mine, a completely ignorant man who for around fifteen years had resffused to take my research seriously. He always commented, "I go out shooting all over Kent and I've never seen a cat, surely if anyone was going to see one then it would be me." I laughed and replied, "If you're out blasting the hell out of rabbits I don't think there'd be a reason for a cat to be around, and let's fact it, you can't be 'all over Kent' at the same time can you ?"
My relative had been shooting not far from Sittingbourne on private land. He was watching a JCB in the distance when a massive black animal ran across the field. He immediately phoned me, his voice shaking as he reported the animal - he was so startled that anyone would have thought he'd seen a dinosaur. When I told him, jokingly, that I didn't believe him he slammed the phone down. Oddly, the man now thinks he's the only person in England to have seen a 'big cat'!!
Sceptics and the like are funny ol' folk. I've often been of the opinion that it's ideal to be open minded, nothing more nothing less. When, as a kid I began looking into sightings of 'big cats' I never believed them and I didn't scof at them either, I simply decided I'd look at the evidence. Over the years I have and have formed my own opinion based on this which I thought was the best thing to do, maybe I'm wrong. I certainly don't think it's a good idea to go out all guns blazing thinking these cats exist in their thousands etc, too much belief can be just as bad as too much disbelief, but if someone is genuinely trying to put the evidence out there then all I can say to the sceptics and detractors is, look at it with open eyes, or at least get in touch with any isues you have, rather than hide behind pseudonyms making petty comments. It's not a playground, it's a subject that interests many people and many people have sen these animals. For many years I've written about ghost stories etc, but I keep the 'big cat' research separate. I've never seen a ghost, but I'm open minded because so many people claim to have seen one but evidence is lacking, but with regards to exotic cats in the wild, there is evidence.
Yesterday I was contacted by a lady named Trina who found a fox carcass that had been completely rasped clean (see image). She sent me several images. I've had these looked at by 4 different people who all are of the opinion that a large cat had killed it. Clearly, the fox hadn't died of natural causes, and whilst birds may have finished the carcass off, the rasped ribs etc, are the hallmarks we see time and time again with cat kills. I'm more than happy for someone to step forward and challenge this opinion, but to dismiss is entirely through ignorance is the worst thing you can do. Being open minded and having healthy debate is great, but to believe or disbelieve at an extreme is ignorance.