BIGCATSINSUSSEX

big cat research in Sussex

EVIDENCE

While conducting research into the Sussex big cats various types of physical evidence are gathered like fur samples,scat,pawprint impressions,carcases etc.It must be remembered that what you see here is part of a collection of evidence that has taken 1000,s of hours of not just my time but of the other content providers to accumilate in often adverse conditions and to whom i am very grateful for their permission to publish,frankly a lot of my spare time is spent in the pursuit of very little.It is this hard to find any plausible evidence of big cat behaviour and even much harder to discount the not possible.What is seen here has been whittled down to the most obvious of evidence but it is not intended to be taken as proof of the existance of big cats,i already know they are about and i,m not trying to convince sceptics.The evidence shown is part of what is used to understand big cat behaviour like what,how and why they eat,why is their body shape different to what is commonly assumed etc.etc.All of this goes towards adding to the jigsaw that makes up the bigger picture of understanding a little more of the behaviour,activities and types of big cats in Sussex.The more that is known the better the understanding.The more we understand,the more we have to respect these,our apex predators.........

Physical evidence cannot be wrong,it doesn,t lie,it,s not influenced by emotions or prejudice or confused by the excitement of the moment.The evidence and/or pictorial record of it can be poured over time and time again by anyone who could be presented with it and in this way can be presented as fact.What can be wrong however is our interpretation of these facts and what they mean.The following series of photographs document the identification and collection of plausible physical evidence of big cats and their behaviour or as near to it as could be debatable.Unfortunately it has been done in the most part without DNA analysis and so without unarguable confirmation of the species/sub-species involved.The Golden Fleece of evidence gathering has to be that which provides scientifically viable DNA analysis,publically available,that big cats have provided it like, say, a leopard,lynx or puma however all of the DNA and microscopical analysis conducted so far has only yielded domestic cat  and none of the above,yet.Comments and opinions are very much welcome........

Due to the large image files i have uploaded it some of the pictures are too large to be viewed in one hit,to rectify this scroll to the bottom of the page and hit the cursor right or left to view each missing side of the picture............

(1)

 

Livestock attacks properly attributed to a big cat are extremely rare,they occur mostly in times of hard weather like snow which has hindered a big cat in it,s quest for natural prey,they are injured and so not able to catch deer etc.have got so far in life that they are too old or,as is thought in this case, and this was probably to be confirmed a few months later,nursing a hungry cub when the local stocks of wildlife had been diminished.....

(2)

Not unknown either are foxes killed and eaten by big cats,they have a pattern of eating and all these carcases have a similar look to them.Foxes are killed mostly in early spring when the big cats other prey like deer have got too wise..........

(3)

 

Here we have big cats preferred prey at certain times of the year.This roe deer carcase exhibits all the characteristics of being killed by a big cat , that is the skeleton is still intact while the bones have been rasped clean by the cats rough tongue,the intestines have been eaten ,big cats lack certain vitamins which they replenish quickly by eating the innards.The skin has been pulled neatly back and there is no mess like blood,fur or bits of bone lying around,big cats are very clean eaters and eat a large amount of food then just leave the carcase.....

(4)

Sometimes ,tree scratches are found backed up with other evidence in this case a fox carcase and other stuff.It,s believed that they behave like other cats in that the scratches are left as signatures of the resident cats strength and show other cats wandering through that there is already one here.the width between scratches matched perfectly in size a pawprint found nearby..........

This fallow deer carcase in the picture below was found deep in the Ashdown forest last year,it bears all the characteristics of being killed by a big cat,probably a male.A nearby ambush point under a fir tree was most likely used,a partial pawprint of a big cat was found on the bank with signs of a struggle,there was haemmoraging in the neck area consistant with a large cat gripping the deer there,scat was found similar to that of big cats and lastly it was in an area where a vast amount of evidence like this has been found in  past years....

(5) &(6).....In tIn this picture above is what is believed to be a partial pawprint of the big cat that caught the fallow deer,the size is consistant with what has been before.......

In the picture below on the far side of the stream bank can be seen signs of a struggle,the leaves are pushed down into the water.The muddy patch on the bankside marks the historical deer run that they and other animals,use to cross the stream.The fir tree on the left of the picture is where presumably the big cat in question laid in wait to ambush the fallow  as they crossed,most often at night.All these pieces of the jigsaw do slot in with other pieces of evidence found at other stream crossing kill sites..................

(7)

.(8)

This fallow buck carcase was found in june 2010 ,it is believed a big male would of killed the buck by no means an easy feat given the size of these deer.Again the carcase bears all the hallmarks of being taken by  a very big cat.A trail camera placed at the site revealed that it was untouched by foxes until the 7th day,this is usual as a big cat  kill will often not be scavenged until the cat has left the area......

(9)

e area..........

The remains of this fox were found in may 2010 in an area where a big cat had been active,the carcase shows signs of being eaten and big cats are the only known wild predators of foxes that will also eat the bodies.That spring saw an upsurge in fox carcases that could of been attributed as big cat kills and this is thought to be because of the very late baby rabbit boom that spring because of the cold weather........

The following 12 pictures ,that is picture numbers 10 to 22,have been gleaned from fellow Sussex big cat researcher Bryan Hale,Bryan covers the Mid-Sussex area and for 20 plus years he has gathered virtually all the available big cat information from here,in other words if something happened in this area Bryan knew about it or knew someone who did, my deepest gratitude to him for permission to publish these pictures for your scrutiny and if you would like to offer him any sightings or for additional information on this evidence Bryan can be e-mailed on be.hale@btinternet.com.

It should be noted that the next 12 pictures ,numbers 10 to 22,are copyright Bryan Hale.All rights reserved...........

(10).(11).(12).(13).(14).(15).(16).(17).(18).(19).(20).(21)

A large black cat was observed near this carcase   by fellow big cat researchers in the Ashdown forest area.It was believed to of possibly just been killed.The damage to the nose area has been noted before on some deer carcases...........

The animal was then seen to creep into the nearby cover then,when a lamp was put on the area, these orange eyes were seen to be looking beack this way.My own observations of a big cat when i had surprised it caused it to slink off into cover for it then to observe me from a safe distance.Other witnesses of big cats at night have observed orangey/yellow eyes reflecting back at them larger and spaced further apart than foxes ..........

Thia jacob sheep carcase was found at a time of extremely cold weather one winter together with a large cat-like pawprint  and some scat.This strippping of the skin in the forequarter/neck area together with partial consumption of the flesh and haemorriging of the neck muscle has been noted time and time again on carcases found in areas of intense big cat activity together with other evidence of their presence like paw prints and scat........

  

Although not particularly deep this pawprint was found near to the above sheep carcase..........

Another deer carcase illustrating the haemorreging  going on plus the pawprint found in the next picture..........

The above photo has a cartridge shown for scale...........

A clarge cat-like pawprint in the above picture............

 A paw print found in Ashdown forest area again on "03............

This carcase was found along with the following scat sample.........

Along with the scat were these scratch marks found the next morning to the chicken coop...........

 The chicken coop in the picture above shows signs of extreme scratch marks,no known animal apart from a big cat could of conceivably made this type of damage,entry to the chickens however didn,t happen.this happenened at a time of hard weather in north east Sussex "07/"08........

(22)

29.1.2011 and a large black cat was seen trotting along a fenceline at dawn,this padding was found...........

(23)

 This partial paw print in the photo above was found where the big cat had been seen...........

(24)

Another partial pawprint was found..........

(25)

The photo above shows the field edge along which all the pawprints were found,this is where the big cat was observed to travel by the witness.The slightly lower ground here,left as a consequence of the plough turning over the last sods of soil,is typical of where big cats have been seen to travel as it affords them less view from their prey,big cats will often travel along the lowest piece of ground so long as it,s not too damp..........

(26).

The cat was then seen entering this rough grass field where this scat was found.A sample wasn,t taken unfortunately at the time and when i went back it had been trampled by stock so it is by no means certain to have come from the cat in question however i have included here for reference.........

(27).

The above and below photos shows a badger skull found 7.4.11 at a big cat sighting at night when a badger was heard to be screaming blue murder,they only make this terrible racket when at their wits end.Trail camera footage in areas where big cat activity has been high has consistantly revealed very low foot fall of badgers than would be expected,again like roe the 1st year juveniles are presumably taken as most badgers  caught on camera are full adults,as the pinkish tinge on the teeth of the above skull betray it as being of a young badger which would accumilate the findings.It is thought that badgers are taken by big cats mostly in the hungry gap of feb and march  and corresponding data elsewhere in the country has revealed. similar data.....

(28).(29).(30).(31)

31.1.11 saw a witness observe a large,labrador sized black cat climb an oak tree effortlessly when it had been noticed by the witness.These marks on the bark were found and are synonimous with other marks found when a big cat has been seen up a tree........

(32).(33).(34)

The picture right above shows the part of the field where the Falmer pawprint was found and the 2 pics above that are of the pawprint itself.The Telscombe cat had been seen in the area and being only 20" high at the time (and still growing)certainly seems to be the most likely candidate for the paw print.Other big cats of this size have left paw prints of similar type and measurements like the Iping paw print the previous october and the Devils dyke paw print from january "10.

(35)

 A lovely collection of big cat plaster casts from different areas showing the remarkable similarities between paw prints.The picture below shows 4 impressions found in the mud where a big cat had been seen to run together with the measurements,a 32"stride..I am extremely grateful for permission to use these 2 pictures from a fellow big cat researcher from the Ashdown forest.....

(36)

 

 

 

The following picture shows a paw print found in the north of the region in the spring in may "11,it was one of a collection of paw prints seen along a ride though most were only partial ,of the best plaster casts were made and the best of which a photo was taken however no other evidence of a big cat was found and no recent sightings though historically there have been sightings over the years.My apologies for the poor quality of the photo .....

(37).

 

 The next picture has been published by kind permission of Carol Cowley(copyright Carol Cowley all rights reserved) and represents a classic carcase find,note the pulled back skin,ribs chewed down,innards gone and the lack of a great deal of mess like blood and fur which would be apparent if just scavengers had got at the carcase from the way beginning,in other words although the puncture marks on the rib cage and the little bits of fur would perhaps denote slight scavenging this would appear judging by the photos to of happened after the main feast as it were,mind you even big cats leave tiny amounts of fur.Without actually seeeing the carcase for myself as i was away at the time i can only state what i see in the picture however 4 other independant researchers have looked at the photo/s and have come to the same conclusions as my own.It,s condition is consistant with the stated eye witness report of it being 2 days (since time of death) the pattern of skin pull together with the amount left on the head area is consistant with the big cat it is presumed,at least by me,to be that is the same cat that is responsible for the fallow carcase in the trail cam pic from june 2010,near the top of this evidence page and note the similarities it bears to it.Although big cat kills share similarities they do have slight differences to the state of the carcase left in the way that they are eaten and it,s by this way that extra evidence can be brought to differenciate between the different cats....

(38).

 (39)

 I came to the conclusion that this deer was very likely killed by a big cat in Sussex by examination the available evidence which i have tried to illustrate in the following pictures.The roe carcase was found and examined however scavengers like foxes and badgers had been at it in the estimated 3 days since killed,the jagged edges to the bones give this away as does the separation of the hind leg at the top of the femur however neck fur ,hoof print and faint drag lines in the grass found 15 yards from the consumption site certainly did point to a possible big cat kill.....

((40)

After looking at the following evidence that i have photographed here i concluded that the roe deer had indeed been killed by a big cat,as i will try and explain although i got to the carcase a bit late to be sure by the carcase alone evidence in the surrounding area added their own pieces to the jigsaw.In the 3rd picture the soft lighter neck fur was found concentrated in one spot,in the top left of the 2nd picture and also the top left of the first pic grooves made by the aphyxiated deers hooves can be seen to of been scraping in the ground.Also in the 1st pic the grass can be seen to be flat and all facing this way which was the way the deer was carried downhill.This gentle drag line produced by a relatively strong animal such as a big cat weighing in excess of an estimated 20 kilos in the grass is converse to the drag line made by scavengers which would produce a more pronounced drag line caused by the whole weight of the deer rather than that lifted to a degree by a big cat and often is accompanied by the fur that is ripped out as they have eaten it.A deer carcase positioned  by a big cat should be a subtle move like what is illustrated here.It is presumed by the evidence here in these photos that the big cat in question either stalked or ambushed the deer,then stealthily caught up to it,grabbed it by the throat then aphyxiated it with the apparent struggle and hoof/leg flaying making their marks in the ground with the cat having hold of the deers neck close to the ground to the last and then lifting the body and dragging it to some nearby cover 15 yards away for it to be consumed.Within 2 days scavengers had moved in hinting at the moving on of the big cat.....