big cat research in Sussex



view:  full / summary

Another Eastbourne South downs big cat sighting

Posted on July 8, 2013 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)
Yet another sighting in from the South downs in the Eastbourne area of a brown big cat, this is the third report with matching descriptions. This time the witness mentioned mottled small spots under the fur similar to leopards but more spread out. The overall brown colour of the fur had an almost gingery hue to it as the sun caught the fur. The face was said to of been more angular than a mountain lion and not as stocky or muscular, the tail was long. Height said to be just shy of 2ft at the shoulder.The witness, an American lady out walking on the downs, had a good knowledge of mountain lions or pumas and said this large cat was unlike one of those something repeatedly said over the years by witnesses. Something is strange here as this is the third sighting in 6 weeks from this area and all in daylight and not at dusk. It can be unusual to get 3 sightings of most likely the same animal in such a short period of time in the same area. Also, as I have posted before, it would appear that these brown cats bear little resemblance to mountain lions and have even been seen together with the black big cats something that a puma and a black leopard would be very unlikely to do. The brown colouration is unknown in leopards and so it would be reasonable to assume with some evidence and a certain degree of accuracy that both the black and brown cats are one and the same species. Exactly what species/sub-species remains to be confirmed...

Poss.sighting of big brown cat in from Eastbourne area

Posted on June 26, 2013 at 5:05 AM Comments comments (0)

A sighting from the South downs in the Eastbourne area has just come in of a very large animal that was at first partially hidden from view in the long grass.Described by the witnesses as being of an almost gingery colour(often brown cats are said it give off a gingery hue when the sun catches their sleek coats in summer) it then got up and loped off unlike any dog and more cat-like.It had a smooth coat and the nearby sheep with lambs in tow paid no notice to it.Although not 100% sure that what was seen was a big cat it is difficult to think what else it could of been. On open downland, today at 8:45 in bright light often these cats with brown coats appear to have a colour not what we would expect a wild animal to have but roe deer in july have a very rich reddy/orange brown colour. The field in question has had a sighting reported from it before. As always in these cases enquiries will be made in order to eliminate other possible candidates for the sighting but at this time it sounds very likely to of been a big cat...

Big cat sighting near Lewes

Posted on June 18, 2013 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (0)

A sighting of a big cat has come in from the Lewes area on the 7th June. Seen  at 1:45pm near Kingston,East Sussex which nestles in the South Downs, it moved slowly along a hedge then into bushes.Described by the 2 witnesses as being 65cm tall,of a sandy(puma) colour having long legs and a very slim body. Could this be a long legged cat?Or is it just a very young and athletic looking British big cat but just of the not often seen brown colour instead of black.Sightings of large wild cats that have very long legs do crop up from time to time and my own observations of a black one of these  do point to a distinctly different type of cat not in colour but by form of body.

One of the witnesses did wonder if it may of been one of these Savannah cat hybrids that are becoming quite popular as pets.Local enquiries are continuing as to whether the cat seen was one of these but at time of this post none barely resembling the above description could remotely of been responsible for this sighting.In any case these new hybrids are fairly expensive to buy and I would of thought most owners would keep closer tabs on their charges and not let them wander around too much.Strangely happy on leads they would be very visible in a locality but with a human on tow.

What is frustrating is that sightings of large cats with very long legs usually occur only during the summer months and are so infrequent that little knowledge can be sieved from such thin material like if they are a different sub-species and what are they up to ?

Numbers of big cats in Sussex

Posted on June 14, 2013 at 7:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Clearly only an estimate but the numbers of big cats in Sussex does seem to of fallen drastically in the last year or so or rather more accurately the areas where they are being seen has fallen.In 2010/2011 I surveyed Sussex by sightings and other evidence gathering to come up with a figure of around a dozen big cats that were being seen or leaving evidence behind in the form of kills and/or paw prints and could possibly group that data to specific areas where I believed certain cats were.Of course some of it was guesswork and would have had  to of been confirmed by other data but although most are of a uniform black they exhibit visual differences like size, body conformation etc. and also exhibit different behaviour when being seen like running straight away,creeping,looking etc.At the time I admitted that one or two cats might of been the same but didn`t realise how this could be interpreted in the results.3 years down the line and some areas are not producing any evidence of big cat activity at all.This can be due to change of land use like encroachment of development on hunting and laying up areas or reductions in prey numbers especially rabbits however where none of the above are accountable then it must be reasonable to assume that previously the cat that was responsible for the sightings or whatever has either moved on or died.

What is clear from the last year of data collection that fewer areas are producing signs of cat activity but this is accounted for by the widely reported crash in rabbit numbers in the past year countywide probably accelerated by the remarkably wet weather bring on more fatal diseases but rabbits were heading for a crash anyway.Just about all herbivorous small mammal populations show a helter skelter trough, peak, trough in numbers roughly every 7 years like voles ,mice, lemmings famously and rabbits are no exception with their numbers climbing up to critical mass over a number of years for them to plummet , the last time was in the mid `90.s if I remember .Seeing as rabbits make up for a large proportion of a big cats  diet then this failure of a food source could point to a drop in overall cat numbers or at least a lower cub birth or survival rate.

Another interesting point uncovered  is that some big cats are moving from one area to another on a much wider scale than previously thought, the same cat might not be seen in an area for quite some time where it had previously been seen regularly only for it to reappear back on the radar back in it`s old haunts and so nowadays the previous estimate of numbers of big cats in Sussex should be reduced a little..

Big cat paw print found

Posted on June 4, 2013 at 5:20 PM Comments comments (8)

A very big leopard-like big cat paw print was found recently in East Sussex that looks just the job,I have only seen a photo of a plaster cast to date but it is hoped to be able to see it first hand when time permits and visit the area found.Last year in march and also in the autumn there were unconfirmed(3rd hand i.e.someone knows someone who saw one) reports of a very large big cat beeing in the very vicinity as well as confirmed reports coming in from nearby.Big cat sightings of a leopard size are seen in Hastings and Bexhill (in the country north of these towns)regularly.First examination of the paw print bears a resemblance in size to the Robertsbridge big cat (just over 11cm)but as I don,t have a complete paw print to compare I have to go on size alone which is 12.2cm or 5" wide(if running or exerting pressure a big cats paw print will increase slightly in size)truly massive seeing as the Ashdown forest big cat weighs in at 10cm wide (see evidence page)and the Offham big cat(Lewes) a tiny 8cm,The old Horsham big cat which dipped into Surrey a lot was also huge but still shy of 11cm but as the Steyning big cat showed paw size is not strictly relative to body mass though all reports of the Robertsbridge big cat do tell of a really huge cat standing at least 25" at the shoulder.I have been sure that the Robertsbridge big cat ventured in the Hastings area but just how east it goes is unsure.This was found north of Hastings by a chap who also came across others in the clay patch and prints were found up a bank also.The photo of the plaster cast of the print has been Tweeted and will appear on this website as soon as I am able...

In other news an unconfirmed(not able to contact the witness) report last month came in from the Ditchling area of a large black leopard sized cat being seen and another witness contacted to report an alsation sized black cat crossing the road in the East Grinstead area,could this be the Ashdown forest big cat in the northern most reaches of it,s territory?

The only news coming in this year from West Sussex is from the Horsham big cat with a sighting on the 30th april at St.Leonards forest.No news of either the Midhurst big cat or the Milland big cat but then this doesn,t mean they aren`t around it just means the reports aren`t coming in whether they are just not being seen by witnesses or people are not doing the reporting!Time will tell...

Brown big cat at St.Leonards Forest

Posted on April 19, 2013 at 12:35 PM Comments comments (0)

A very large brown big cat,the size of a big dog,was seen recently (30.3.2013) in St.Leonards Forest near Horsham,West Sussex.A local man was walking his Jack Russell which was running about in and out of view as they do when he caught sight of a clump of deer staring ahead of them through the trees.Looking ahead of them the witness caught sight of a very large sandy brown cat that dissapeared over the brow of the low hill there.The little dog came back to him earlier than usual looking quite shaken.Although fairly quiet on the sightings front in the past 12 months the vast public forest of St.Leonards saw many sightings previous to this of both black and brown big cats and on more than one occasion fairly near to each other in the space of a few days....

Changes to this website

Posted on April 1, 2013 at 9:45 PM Comments comments (0)

There have been some changes made to this website or rather the way information is distributed.Sightings posted on the this news page will still be current but only after investigation of the sighting or confirmation from contact with the eye witness/es.This is to try and keep all postings on this website as accurate as possible.The use of social media means that notification of sightings,evidence gathering,etc.will be posted first on Twitter and Facebook using Youtube just as before as a video storage and viewing site but pictures will also be placed now on Twitter and increasingly on FB with confirmed relevence to big cat research they will make it onto this website the best of which to the evidence page.Although not just big cat related material is posted on social media it,s instant and useful especially after a lean period of big cat reports...

Twittter address:Charlie Bones @bigcatdetective

Ashdown Forest big cat seen,,,

Posted on March 5, 2013 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (0)

The Ashdown Forest big cat was seen recently in the Chelwood Gate area by 2 witnesses driving home early in the evening.They were doing sub 40mph,necessary to safely avoid a collision with one of the large number of fallow deer that cross the roads and saw a very large black animal that "had all the appearances of being feline" lope across the road in front of them.Once on the grassy verge it paused for a second before being lost to sight in the gathering darkness.Although not having seen a big cat in the area before despite being local the witnesses thought the animal was a big cat as described by other people they knew who had seen it elsewhere on the Forest.This is the first sighting from this area of Sussex this year that has been reported to this website,last year there was barely a month when there wasn`t a report in and all statements described a similar sized big cat of around 22" tall not much bigger than a labrador but far longer and sleeker with a tail often stretched outwards when in motion.Paw prints found a couple of years ago or so and published on the evidence page of this website were thought to of come from this big cat and it is hoped that fresh prints will turn up that could be compared as there are no 2 prints the same.A freshly dead fox was also found elsewhere on the Forest this month which bore some of the signs of being predated on whether by a dog or big cat....

Robertsbridge big cat shows up

Posted on February 25, 2013 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

A fresh sighting of the Robertsbridge big cat has cropped up this time by 2 witnesses who had a very close encounter.They were walking the dog at 9:30 pm last thursday 21st feb.and the dog ran into a thickly wooded gulley whereupon they heard a deep,intense growling noise,definitely not a dog-like growl,then their dog re-emerged from the wood cowering and shining their light to the left of it saw a very large black cat no more than 15 yards away staring at their dog without any side ways glances at them,which was a shame because no colour of the eyeshine was visible which is always useful data to know.The was for perhaps 15 seconds whereupon the cat sloped off back into the wood not to be seen again that night.Height was estimated at being around 26"tall,far bigger than the 20"tall dog and had a long tail that was pointed groundwards most of the time,the body was sleek,deep chested with a head out of proportion to the body and pointed forwards,domestic cat-like ears.A large paw print was found the next morning by the witness and on inspection looks very interesting and so a copy has been requested.Moonlit nights such as this one usually find sightings appear at night whether by car drivers seeing a cat cross the road in front of them or in similar cases as this,on the dark nights sightings are often twilight ones or even in the middle of the day and it is thought that harder hunting for the cats without the help of the moon results in them concentrating their efforts at(usually)dusk with them re-doubling their hunting efforts on into the morning.This country here is comprised of mostly grazing fields intersperced with an, in places, equal amount of deciduous woodland often having an understory of chesnut and hazel coppice or even rhodadendron-ideal big cat habitat and prey numbers are high comprising of reasonable numbers of rabbits,pheasants and other birds with deer of all shapes and sizes such as fallow,sika,roe and a few muntjac.People traffic is also low and so the threat of daytime disturbance for a big cat is minimal,another reason for daytime sightings.The area that the Robertsbridge big cat takes in as it`s territory is difficult to fathom due to the smaller numbers of sightings because of the lower human density(less eyes to see it) however it`s larger size than the Ashdown forest big cat,the neighbour to the west means that the Heathfield and Mayfield areas belong to it`s neighbour.It could well be the same big cat seen occasionally around Battle but whether it`s the same one as seen around the Tunbridge Wells area is anyones guess as size estimates from eye witness reports here have been hard to determine...

Big cat seen in suburban Brighton

Posted on December 29, 2012 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (0)

A big cat has been seen in a garden on the outskirts of east Brighton,East Sussex very near to the racecourse late at night recently.It was standing against a low garden wall which meant a scale measurement of around 50" in body length excluding tail which is at least 3.5 to 4 foot long,truly huge and not to be mistaken for a domestic cat by any stretch of the imagination.Said by the witness to have a more domestic-like head though but with more rounded ears and an extra length tail because it was dark no more features were mentioned by the witness.The street it was seen in is 500 yards or so from open country of the downs at Brighton and the sighting comes as no surprise from this area being a particular hotspot for sightings of big cats especially at this time of year when the weather is poor(areas of country north of the downs are all flooded out) .In addition the witnesses cat bore an inch or so long scar from an encounter it had at the time of the sighting with 2 more cuts being found on it`s neck area and a preliminary examination by myself has ruled out canid (fos or dog)attack.Although extremely rare for confirmed cases of big cat on house cat predation it is not completly unknown and there is a spate of missing cats from the area at this time.Also 11 small goldfish were taken from a shallow pond and tests are being undertaken on the remaining 2 fish to ascertain the predator in question although at this stage of the investigation fox is seeming to be more likely due to the ragged nature of the bite marks.Pictures of the goldfish bite marks have been posted to my Facebook account for perusal....

Hastings big cat talk

Posted on December 8, 2012 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (0)

There will be a big cat talk next wednesday at Fairlight near Hastings,RSPCA Mallydams.The speakers will be the acclaimed big cat book author Rick Minter as well as Gloucestershires own Frank Tunbridge and after there will be full oppurtunity for everyone to add to the debate in the form of an open floor.Discussion led it will outline the national position of the wild big cats however the Sussex big cats will be on the agenda.The advance weather forecast is looking a bit icy but I can be reached via Twitter or Facebook (bigcatdetective or Charlie Bones res.)if there is any change of plan but it does look as though East Sussex will escape the worse of the snow and so it certainly looks like full steam ahead for the night....

Petworth sighting may throw new light...

Posted on October 7, 2012 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)

A big cat was in the Petworth area yesterday at 12.45pm,the weather was sunny with excellent visibility.It was described by the 2 witnesses as being of the size of a German Shepherd dog as best size approximation,was of a jet black colour and had a very long tail.It ran or loped across the field but did not give the impression of having been flushed or moved on from somewhere.It is unclear at this stage whether it was the Midhurst big cat or the Milland big cat as the area is in "disputed territory" in other words we know there are 2 different cats but don,t know where each of their areas end so to speak however at this stage it would appear to me to be the former.Relevant data has to be fully examined and certain results will of course be published but this sighting could well throw new light on how big cats relate to topographical features in their enviroment as regards to their movements and general behaviour.....

Mid may sighting of Ashdown Forest big cat

Posted on September 5, 2012 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)

This sighting has recently come in however it throws more light on the movements of the Ashdown Forest big cat.Once again it was seen going about it,s own business through the bushes at 14.30 hrs without taking much notice of the car bound witnesses who were not too far away,they stated it was around 22" at the shoulder and of a very dark black and very leopard-like in appearance.Sounds very like the Ashdown Forest big cat who,at this time of year ,was not known to of been in the Copthorne area of the Forest....

Mystery wild cat seen at Rottingdean

Posted on September 5, 2012 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (0)

A large dark-mottled grey wild cat crossed in front of a car seen by 2 witnesses on the morning of the 24th august just outside Rottingdean on the East Sussex coast making for the downs.It was much larger and longer than a domestic cat and had sticking up ears and was either without or had a very short tail.After extensive local enquiries it,s been deduced to be not a locally owned very large domestic but to be possibly one of the large wild cats seen very occasionally on the South Downs or even could be a or even the Lynx that was seen recently in the Ditchling area 8 miles to the north-west.The sighting was brief of around 4 seconds but in good daylight,there have been reports of similar looking wild cats over the years in this part of the county but in the last couple or so years the sightings have concentrated more in the north-east parts of Sussex.In the autumn of 2003 I saw an 18 to 19" tall wild cat of a light greyish or dirty cream colour with large pricked ears and medium length tail having a boxy appearance to it,s body near the Steyning Bostal.other accounts around the same time locally and further away suggested the mystery cat(if it was the same one) was moving across a large area.What is more or less certain is that the South Downs offers a transit route for all  of our types of wild cats be they feral domestic,Lynx,large or not quite so large wild cat and even the leopard-like black cats that comprise the bulk of the reports.....

Lynx seen near Ditchling again

Posted on August 15, 2012 at 6:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Once again a lynx has been sighted near Ditchling at 1am on the 27.7.12.Classic lynx description of the type of animal that has been seen in the area on a number of occasions and the witnesses also corroberated last decembers Ditchling lynx sighting with a view of a lynx crossing the road nearby a couple of nights later.This time around it was seen in the same parish which has led to speculation that the most recent sightings have been of the same animal which habitually frequents the area on a regular basis.On being seen by the witness the lynx paused to look and then filtered off into the night.Ditchling or rather it,s surrounding countryside is very high in the big cat sightings lists with large black cats figuring most strongly however lynx sightings go back to at least the "90,sNo sheep or other livestock losses have been reported to Bigcatsinsussex despite extensive enquiries however a number of bird kills (mostly pigeon and strangely enough blackbird) were found that were not attributed to the usual fox or sparrowhawk although it was thought that feral or farm cat could not be ruled out.There is a large amount of available prey for a lynx in the surrounding mixed farmland and the South downs half a mile to the south offers extensive cover especially on the north facing sidehill.The delay in releasing this latest sighting has been due to an investigation of the sighting which is now complete.....

Ashdown Forest big cat sighted close by

Posted on July 9, 2012 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

The sightings are hotting up again for the Ashdown Forest big cat.Following on from last weeks sighting is another being reported 2.5 miles away and 51 hours 40mins apart,at 00.10 early saturday morning.Similar sort of thing,the big cat was seen crossing the road well in front of the car that the witnesses were driving and carried on it`s way.As always the same description of creature.No reflection from the eyes was reported which could indicate that the cat was not actually looking at the vehicle at the time but was intent on crossing the road.Assuming that we are dealing with the same big cat then this is typical for it to be seen in the same area, over a number of days previous studies on very individual looking big cats have indicated that a cat will spend a certain amount of time in a clump of parishes,anything from 2 days to a week or so before moving on and cropping up somewhere totally different say 10 miles or more away.This would mean that a big cat would seemingly cover it,s ground systematically during the night possibly useing the same or similar cover as a base to lie up in the daytime .At least this is the case in areas that don,t have the cover afforded to it like Ashdown Forest has,here the ground cover is so dense and impenetrable in places that there are all manner of options for it to find a safe from being disturbed place to be in daylight hours.It would appear that a cat would typically hunt not in a straight line as we would see it but would criss cross an area coming back almost on itself in a loop but not always on the same path.We will never know for sure without such scientific devices as radio collars but who needs them when such detailed and clear observations are coming in from witnesses.....

Ashdown Forest big cat seen again

Posted on July 5, 2012 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (0)

The Ashdown Forest big (black) cat has been seen again,this time in the northern reaches of the Forest,again at dusk.This was yesterday around 8 30pm which is the usual time for it (if it is the same cat) to be seen.Running at a fair speed before there was any chance it could of seen the witness the cat was obviously intent on getting somewhere quickly.There has been no sign of the possibly , a lttle bigger, brown cat for quite a while now nor have sightings of the Lynx been brought to my intention since it was seen in the Forest a good couple or 3 months back.....

Rain to blame for lack in big cat sightings

Posted on July 3, 2012 at 5:40 AM Comments comments (0)

The record amounts of rain that fell during april,may and june has resulted in a luxuriant growth of cover with fieldside grasses,bracken etc. making it extremely diffficult for the big cats to be seen and hence reported.There is usually a drop in sightings in high summer compared to the usual spring flush however this year has seen (pun intended!) a real crash in reports.This has been repeated up and down the country with all researchers all over noticeing an extreme quiet period regarding the logging of big cat movements,insights into not often seen big cat behaviour and all the other extra info that is produced when the general public report in their sightings.The cats are still there,they are just hidden from view for the most part and it has been noticed that the few sightings that have come in have been in very open areas like woods with thick canopys(barer floors) or road crossings in front of cars.The thick cover is here to stay and although when the first of the crops get cut like the oil seed rape and winter corn big cat sightings should pick up a bit , it,s likely to be a leaner year on the witness report front until the winter die off with the frosts.Hunting should in theory be better for the cats enabling them to get closer to their intended prey without being seen and this factor could also be contributing to the lack of (daylight) sightings......

Big cat seen up tree after birds

Posted on June 20, 2012 at 5:55 PM Comments comments (0)

A big cat was seen in forestry near Chichester which could of been hunting birds up trees.Last night,well into dusk and a witness out looking for glow worms heard all manner of birds making an almighty racket just inside a forestry block.Investigating the cause the witness was taken aback by seeing about 50 yards away a big cat around 20" tall half way up a,possibly birch,tree.The local bird population were screaming like mad in warning more so,the witness said ,than if they were warning about a fox.The big cat which was dark,possibly black but not jet,panther black then backed down the tree trunk gingerly and on reaching the ground looked up at the witness and let out a very deep,loud roaring meow more deeper and louder than a domestic cat but not leopard-like,in fact not like any other cat he had heard.It had smallish ears pressed against the head,shortish thick fur and the legs were described as being the same height as the body which was stocky but when seen from behind quite sleek.It then ran off further into the wood when the long tail could be seen flicking about as it run.The witness believes it could of been hunting the roosting birds which,giving the circumstances,is very likely.Early this year, if it is the Midhurst big cat,then it was also observed with a pigeon in it,s mouth and also the year before when i found various pigeon carcases that could not of been attributed to the usual fox predation and could well of been big cat kills.This same year the Midhurst cat was seen up a tree(see the video page) and claw marks in the bark could clearly be seen,it is hoped that this tree this time round can also be investigated for marks.Sightings of big,mostly black cats in this area of remote woodland between Chichester and Midhurst go back to at least Edwardian times i believe if i have quoted the book "The bolter" correctly and forms the central part of the Midhurst big cats range though the greater bulk of sightings quite obviously come from areas closer to habitation where there are more eyes to spot it.My grateful thanks go the the witness for the in depth descripton of events,most valuable......

Patcham couple tell of seeing big cat

Posted on June 14, 2012 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (0)

2 newspaper readers told how they thought they saw a labrador sized big cat crossing Patcham High schools playing fields last monday(Argus story-couple spot `the Panther of Patcham`).Although on the edge of town bordering the A27 bypass with the downs beyond, at first glance this may seem a strange place for a big cat to be wandering through and yet this suburban area has produced it,s fair slice of big cat sightings in the past along with it,s near neighbours Falmer.Hollingbury,Bevendean,Preston Park,West Dene even to the south at the Ditchling road area,all these in only the last 18 months or so but these are all suburban areas with a low housing density and large gardens all interlinked with the railway running through as well as the large public parks some so thick with undergrowth a herd of elephants could travel through unnoticed let alone a slinking big cat.....