Big cat seen again

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - FRONT PAGE - by Clare Mul­grew

AN­OTHER big cat is on the prowl in Ash­ford, ac­cord­ing to Neil Arnold of Kent Big Cat Re­search. A mother and daugh­ter al­legedly saw a black leop­ard walk­ing around the car park of Eureka Park in Ash­ford last Wed­nes­day.

AN­OTHER big cat is on the prowl in Ash­ford, ac­cord­ing to Neil Arnold of Kent Big Cat Re­search.

A mother and daugh­ter al­legedly saw a black leop­ard walk­ing around the car park of Eureka Park in Ash­ford last Wed­nes­day.

It was the sec­ond time the pair claim to have seen a big cat at the Ash­ford en­ter­tain­ment com­plex in the past year – their first sight­ing was last July.

Mr Arnold said a wo­man, known only as Mrs Barnes, had been sit­ting with her daugh­ter eat­ing a take­away when a col­liedog sized black cat emerged from be­tween two parked ve­hi­cles.

“Mrs Barnes’ daugh­ter then got out of her car to dis­pose of some lit­ter when sud­denly the black cat strolled passed a few me­tres away,” he said.

“It peered at the wo­man, who no­ticed its big, green eyes and then ca­su­ally went for a stroll around the de­serted car park.”

He said Mrs Barnes also got out of the car and the pair fol­lowed the cat around for the next 20 min­utes, keep­ing a safe dis­tance.

“At one point it sat in a bush and curled up be­fore mov­ing on, and Mrs Barnes’ daugh- ter snapped a pic­ture with her phone but the im­age was too blurry,” he added.

Mr Arnold said he was told it was a smaller crea­ture than the one spot­ted last sum­mer and had a very long, curved tail.

“It’s ex­tremely likely that this par­tic­u­lar black leop­ard is off­spring of the larger cat the mother and daugh­ter saw pre­vi­ously in the area,” he said.

An­other sight­ing was recorded a few weeks back when two black leop­ards were seen to­gether in the Wood­church area.

Mr Arnold has mon­i­tored sight­ings of big cats in Kent for the past 17 years, work­ing with zo­ol­o­gists.

The 1976 Dan­ger­ous Wild An­i­mals Act meant peo­ple would be charged huge fees for keep­ing big cats. Zoos be­came full to ca­pac­ity with peo­ple look­ing to get rid of their pets, and so it is be­lieved many crea­tures were re­leased into the wild.

Any­one who sees a big cat can call Neil Arnold on 01634 302572.

Neil Arnold who has been keep­ing track of the big cats

There have been sev­eral re­ported sight­ings of a black leop­ard like this one

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