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ABCs back in Forre

A SIGHTING of an Alien Big Cat in the Forres area on the Moray Firth, Scotland has reignited debate about whether a wild animal is roaming the area.

There were several similar sightings about 20 years ago at various locations around the town, many of them recorded in the local newspaper The Forres Gazette at the time.

More recently, a local woman who was returning from visiting friends in nearby Dallas a few weeks ago spotted an unusual large feline creature from her car, very close to the road.

The woman, who does not want to be named for fear of ridicule, saw the animal near the Dallas turn-off on the outskirts of Rafford. She told her husband, who said that at first he thought she had been seeing things.

‘She was trying to rule out what it wasn’t,’ he said. ‘I said it must have been a deer, as I have seen them there myself, but she said it wasn’t a deer, and it wasn’t a dog or a cow or a horse either, but it looked like a big cat. My son was in the car, and he saw it too.’

He said that although the daylight was fading, his wife was able to describe the animal as a ‘big cat which was dark in colour’.

He said that he had treated it as a bit of a joke, but his wife was certain about what she had seen.

One of several sightings of a big cat around the Forres area about 20 years ago was reported by Forres Gazette receptionist Francis Murray, who was out walking with her son, Andrew, near the Mannachie area.

‘Andrew was a toddler, and he is 24 now,’ she said. ‘He was walking along beside me when I saw the thing near Mannachie, long before there were any houses there, and it was all just fields.’

She added: ‘A lot of people had reported seeing this thing around Forres, but I was really surprised when I saw it walking up the edge of the field.’

She got a clear look at the creature, and described it as a well-built black cat.
‘At first I thought it must be a black Labrador, which would have been more likely, but it was bigger and too long in the body, and its ears were back,’ she said.

After studying footage of a recent big cat sighting in the Banff area, on the Banffshire Journal website, Ms Murray said it wasn’t unlike the animal she remembered seeing all those years ago.
The CFZ Alien Big Cat Study Group, which charts sightings on the Internet, has instances of big cat sightings – some with pictures – throughout the UK, including an entry from a motorist who claims to have seen a black cat on the Grantown Road in the winter of 2003.

His entry was recorded on October 19, the day after he claimed to have spotted the creature while driving south on the road between Forres and Carrbridge.

‘The road has a steep embankment of silver birch trees on the right and pine forest on the left,’ said the unknown author.

‘I see a lot of wonderful wildlife in this area, including deer, and it is a joy to experience. Yesterday, around 9am, I saw something I have never seen before. From a distance of under 200 yards, a very large black cat with an unusual gait crossed the road from my right to left. By the time I reached the spot, it had vanished. This was not a domestic cat or a dog. It was walking quickly.

I have not reported this to the police yet because I know what their response will probably be. This big cat was so distinctive and unusual that I want to know more about what it might be and whether you believe I should report it. My daughter tells me there have been previous reports of ‘the Moray Cat’, but I don’t know where.’

SSPCA inspector, Scott Elphinstone, said it was not beyond the realms of possibility that big cats could live wild in the area, feeding off game such as rabbits.

‘Since I have been here, there have been quite a few sightings around the Moray area and Aberdeenshire,’ he said. ‘I’m sure that not all of them are right, but there does seem to be something.’

He said that it would ‘make sense’ that sightings had been reported all around the area, with experts suggesting that a big cat can have a hunting ground with a radius of 60 miles.
‘It really makes you wonder,’ he said. ‘The animals could probably survive in the wild by getting prey such as rabbits to keep them going.’

And ABCs down Eden way too

BLACK PANTHERS are living in the countryside close to one of Britain’s premier tourist attractions, a leading big cat expert claimed.

Mark Fraser, of Big Cats in Britain, said he has received numerous sightings from different people in the St Austell area of Cornwall, close to the Eden Project.

He said that the sightings included large black cats the size of dogs which he said are likely to be black panthers.

He added that it is no longer a question in Britain as to whether big cats exist in the wild, just simply a case of what different species are out there.

‘There have been quite a few sightings in Cornwall,’ he said. ‘In the last few months there was a sighting of a large black cat in the St Austell area close to the Eden Project.

‘In October there was another sighting in the same area and in December a sighting of a grey cat, about the size of a Labrador dog.’

Mr Fraser said the cats are ‘obviously breeding’ and that Big Cats in Britain receives claims of sightings each month from across the country.

Bosses at the Eden Project said that they had no evidence of black panthers living in the area but that there had been sightings of large cats.

Spokesman David Rowe said the most recent was two years ago when a member of staff was driving along the main road at night a couple of miles from the site and a black puma-like cat dashed across the road in front of his car.

‘We have had no recent sightings but there have been accounts of big cats being spotted near the Eden Project in the past,’ he said.

‘In one incident in 1998 a member of staff was just outside Eden driving towards the service gate when a black cat the size of a Labrador dog and with a long tail jumped out and ran across the road, leaping the hedge on the opposite side.

‘And we have heard quite a few stories of neighbours encountering big cats on their land but nothing in recent years.

‘The usual description is of a big black cat, though one man living a couple of miles from here has reported seeing a big tawny-coloured one several times.’