From the article:
My worst fears nearly became a chilling reality last week when two girls, Kim Howells, 15, and her cousin Sophie Gwynne, eight, were stalked in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire – by what appears to have been a huge black cat.
Kim described the ‘panther’ as about the size of a Great Dane. ‘We cut through the brambles and just started running,’ she reported afterwards.
When they arrived home, their feet were cut and bleeding. Sophie was in tears. But what really brought this strange case home to me was the fact that if they had come to any real harm, I would have felt responsible.
For six months earlier, I had visited the same spot near Cinderford while making a TV film about leopards around the world, including a short section about the (I thought unlikely) possibility of them living in the UK.
In the end, fearful of causing public alarm, I chose not to use any of the extraordinary evidence I gathered. But the encounter of the two girls last week has convinced me that might have been a mistake. Indeed, I have come to the conclusion that it is time to tell the full, disturbing story.
For the truth is I may well know the ‘mythical’ beast that chased them. Danny Nineham, the region’s local big cat enthusiast, showed me evidence of its existence when I was there last autumn. And it’s a black leopard — nicknamed Boris.
‘He’s huge, even for a male leopard,’ Nineham told me. ‘I’ve recorded many sightings of him. He’s dangerous, in my view. More so than any of the other leopards living and breeding wild in the Forest of Dean, or around the country.’
Leopards in Britain? Surely not. At least, that’s what I used to think. But after going on the trail of Britain’s big cats, I’ve discovered that they’re much more than late-night campfire tales.
There’s never been a shortage of reported sightings.
Nineham works with the authorities, logging the details. He collects possible hair and droppings samples, makes plaster casts of suspected paw prints, and sets up camera traps, all in the hope he can prove once and for all that Britain is stalked by big cats.
At night he’s out in the woods, hunter chasing hunter. During the day, he tries to warn people about the possible dangers – warnings few take seriously.
Since this is the first I have heard of this I had to post something about it, leopards in the UK?! It really wasn’t what I thought I was going to read today.
But there you have it and now you should prepare for it before you venture into the wilderness in Britain.