Get with the beasts: a big game hunter's guide to modern Britain

Reports of a big cat going wild near Stroud only scratch the surface. Tom Peck and Joshua Carroll investigate


1. Cougar

When PC Chris Swallow, a Ministry of Defence dog handler, filmed a sleek, black, metre-long cat in Argyll, Scotland, in 2009, he was convinced it was a black panther.

But locals insisted that it was the Coulport Cougar, which is said to have been spotted several times in the area since 2005.

Click here for the full graphic: A big game hunter's guide to modern Britain.

2. Lioness

In 2010, academic and former mountain ranger, Dr Bob Sharp, reported seeing a 5ft-long, beige-coloured creature prowling in the Kilsyth Hills in Stirlingshire. He concluded that the creature was a lioness. Experts said that this was “not impossible” as the hills are rich in prey, such as lamb and deer. There have been no further reported sightings.

3. Giant rats

In Bradford, West Yorkshire, 2½ ft-long rats have been spotted on the Ravenscliffe estate, even attracting hunters from outside the area. The Mammal Society claims they are in fact coypu - large South American rodents that may have escaped from a farm in East Anglia.

4. Siberian chipmunks

Firmly established in parts of the South and the Midlands. In Wolverhampton, a young mother was attacked by a pair of them in 2009. As well as inflicting a nasty bite, the creatures can carry the sometimes fatal Lyme disease, and other highly contagious viruses.

5. The Stroud deer-eater

Scientists are still analysing DNA samples to test claims that the creature that mutilated a deer at Woodchester Park, Stroud, this week, was a big cat such as a panther or a puma – which could be connected to an albino “big cat” seen in nearby Nailsworth a few days earlier.

6. Man-eating sharks

Repeated sightings of shark species off the Cornish coast, from a mako (Maori for “man-eater) in 2009 to a large oceanic white tip near St Ives in 2011 have been reported. A series of alleged sightings of a great white off Crackington Haven in 1999 remain unconfirmed.

7. The Beast of Bodmin

There have been many reports since 1983 of a black big cat that farmers on Bodmin Moor blame for slaughtering livestock. A 20-second video, released in 1998, may or may not have confirmed the existence of such a beast. But a 1995 Ministry of Agriculture report insisted that there was no evidence of big cats living in the area.

8. Wild boar

Extinct in the UK since the 17th century, boar returned to the British wild in the 1980s after a handful escaped from farms. The population could now be as high as 1,000, spread through seven English counties, notably Dorset. Hunters have been culling boars, which are considered pests, since 2007. Landowners are not obliged to record a kill.

9. Black panthers

Repeated searches by police marksmen have failed to locate the big, dark cat – assumed to be a melanistic jaguar or leopard (ie, a black panther) – reported in Sydenham, south-east London, in 2002 and 2005. But Tony Holder, who required hospital treatment after being mauled by the beast in his back garden, has no doubt that it was real. Since the life-expectancy of such a creature is about 12 years, it is probably still around.

10. Scorpions

Venomous yellow-tail scorpions – accidentally introduced from Italy – have lived in the walls of Sheerness Dock for hundreds of years. Recent warm summers have boosted their numbers to 13,000. Their sting, luckily, is not lethal.

Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Portfolio Analyst/ PMO

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Systems Analyst (Technical, UML, UI)

£30000 - £40000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Cost Reporting-MI Packs-Edinburgh-Bank-£350/day

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...

Senior Private Client Solicitor - Gloucestershire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - We are makin...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn