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Big cat expert’s verdict: beast spotted was a leopard

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Big cat expert and podcaster Rick Minter believes the recent sighting of a mystery beast near Jolly Nice Farm Shop is a black leopard.

On Friday night, stunned Nathan Doran caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a large black cat near the Jolly Nice Farm Shop as he drove to see his girlfriend Ella Francis-Webb in Nailsworth. The incident follows a similar sighting close to the location in November.

Nathan told Stroud Times: “I was coming up to Jolly Nice from Oxford at around 7.50pm and the car in front of me was travelling at a steady pace. I looked to the verge of the other side of the road because I saw a bright pair of eyes low down. Upon further inspection, I suddenly realised there was a large outline of a low and stocky cat that was huge.”

Rick Minter, host of the Big Cat Conversations podcast, told Stroud Times: “This report follows six other alleged incidents of leopard like black cats seen across Gloucestershire and the South West since Christmas. These were from shocked witnesses in the Forest of Dean, near Gloucester, near Dursley, near Newent, near Leominster, and near Glastonbury. In one of them a dog reacted first, alerting the owner to the nearby cat.  

“These cases continue the theory of big cats, resembling black leopards, quietly naturalising here, and leopard DNA announced in Gloucestershire last year from a black hair sample backs the theory.   

“After speaking to Nathan I find his observations credible and consistent with many others I’ve heard. He noticed a large dark cat like mammal, half again as big as a labrador, looking wild in its behaviour with reflecting green eyes the size of golf balls. He didn’t have a dash cam, but he noticed the car in front slow down immediately and then turn around, suggesting they were intent on driving back to check.    

“The general area of Nathan’s report, between Stroud and Cirencester, has yielded several large cat encounters in recent years, and coincidentally it is close to the Royal Agricultural University where potential big cat evidence is studied by students, especially from samples of tooth marks on bones of suspected prey.

“There was a previous sighting of a large cat along the road between Stroud and Cirencester in November. A couple were driving around midnight when their headlights highlighted a tan coloured cat crossing the road.

“They stopped at a verge side to see if it emerged again, but after five minutes nothing materialised. Curiosity got the better of the driver who walked along the roadside with a spotlight- torch and peered into the vegetation. Twenty meters back was a large animal sitting watching him, with bright forward looking eye shine reflecting back. It gave a cat-like warning hiss, which he described as like an intense cobra sound. He quickly retreated, but caught site of the cat turning and noticed its extra-long tubular tail in the spotlight.

“That incident is the fifth tan coloured large cat report, matching a mountain lion, that I’m aware of in recent years in that area. Mountain lions, are also called cougars and pumas. They amount to 15-20 per cent of the cats described by witnesses across Britain. Across Britain and including Gloucestershire, it is notable that both black and tan coloured cats get described in the same key locations. 

“Mountain lions are similar in size and in stealth to black leopards, and also target deer, and also seem to result from released captive animals and trophy pets from past decades.

“One of the guests on the Big Cat Conversations podcast was a precision engineer. Reflecting on his close encounter, he concluded: “black leopards are precision engineered for a British woodland”. 

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