Posted by: Craig Woolheater on January 20th, 2007
We don’t spend much time here at Cryptomundo talking about the black panthers of Britain. Being Americans, we focus on the cases of black panthers seen here in the US. Nonetheless, there are many reports from the UK of large black cats as well.
The following articles are from the Bridgewater Mercury from the last several months.
Hunt for the ‘Beast of Sedgemoor’
August 16, 2006
The search is on to solve Bridgwater’s greatest mystery of modern times – the "Beast of Sedgemoor".
A team of dedicated investigators armed with night vision cameras is aiming to hunt down the giant panther-like creature, sighted so often in the early 1990s.
Conclusive proof of the Beast’s existence has never been secured, but neither has a plausible explanation as to why so many people claim to have encountered it. A team of researchers from Channel Five’s Big Cat Search is aiming to change that.
The trio travel the country searching for the elusive mammal and are now hot on the trail of Sedgemoor’s very own family of sheep-murdering wildcats.
Researcher Mark James said: "A number of cats have been spotted in the Somerset area over the years and we are following up leads that a family of large black cats could be living in the Huntworth and Bridgwater areas.
"We have been contacted by a man in North Petherton who used to keep sheep and over the years has had lots go missing inexplicably, so much so that he’s had to give up keeping them.
"We also know that there were a number of sightings at Enmore Park Golf Club."
A frenzy of fear and excitement gripped the town in 1992 when a young Cossington family was attacked in their car by a "huge black creature with massive teeth".
Days later, sightings were reported across the district of a black panther prowling fields in the area but despite countless attempts to capture the beast on camera, a clear picture of the animal in action has never been forthcoming.
Over the past decade, sporadic reports have been submitted to the Mercury – all claiming sightings of the cat in different surroundings at different times.
Mervyn Slocombe saw a wild cat at Enmore Park Golf Club in 1992.
He told the Mercury last week: "I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was on the practice green and it ran past next to the hedge.
"The only way I can describe it is totally black and about the size of a dog – but definitely a cat."
Former club managing secretary Dave Weston said: "We took a picture of a paw print on the course next to a collie dog’s paw print and it was four times the size. I’m certain it was on our course for about two weeks, but not seen since."
The most common explanation put forward is that large animals were released into the wild to be hunted for sport.
The team is hoping to air the first footage of the Beast of Sedgemoor but needs Mercury readers’ help.
Mark went on: "We want people to keep their eyes open for any wild cat they see in the area.
"Last month we were in Weston searching the golf course there after people reported hearing a high-pitched roar which is how a panther reportedly roars."
Beast of Sedgemoor ‘proof’
August 29, 2006
Conclusive proof that the "Beast of Sedgemoor" once roamed around Bridgwater may finally have been un-earthed by the Mercury.
Stawell couple Les and Juliet Helps this week recounted the moment when they saw the black panther-like creature as it stalked its prey near their home on the Polden Hills.
And the chance recording of the incident on a hand-held camera by their son, Chris, 15 years ago could be the only time the mysterious beast has been caught on film.
Les said: "My son was filming a vixen with her cubs in the field behind our house and we saw this black thing come out of the trees.
"We could hear the vixen screaming at this animal to try and get it away from her cubs – it was a terrible noise.
"We could see it was a cat of some sort and about the size of a Labrador with a big tail. It began circling around the vixen with its lashing tail and looked ready to attack."
The whole sequence was saved on Betamax video before being transferred onto VHS. The quality of picture has suffered because of the transfer but the image of the big cat can still be made out.
In the two-minute sequence, seen by the Mercury, a large black creature with a long tail can be seen in a stand-off with the vixen.
Unfortunately, a still image of the tape was not available at the time of going to press.
The quest for concrete evidence of the Beast’s existence began two weeks ago when a team of researchers from Channel Five’s Big Cat Search appealed for Mercury readers to contact them if they had seen the animal prowling around the area.
Mark James said the response from Bridgwater had been "brilliant" and gave the team some important leads in the making of the programme. He said: "We went to Cornwall to film for three days last week and when we returned we had ten messages on our hotline, all of which were sightings in the Bridgwater area. The response was brilliant, thank you very much to everyone who contacted us."
Earlier this month, Mervyn Slocombe revealed that he saw a wild cat at Enmore Park Golf Club in 1992 and a number of other callers have contacted the Mercury to share their experiences.
Anyone who sees what they think is a big cat can ring a designated hotline on 0870-3339083 or visit the website.
Beast back on the prowl?
January 18, 2007
The Beast of Sedgemoor could be back on the prowl – that’s according to a Bridgwater man who saw a "giant cat-like creature" in woods on the Quantock Hills.
Mercury readers joined the hunt for the mysterious wild animal – believed to be a black panther – back in August last year, after the Mercury highlighted a TV investigation into the claims.
No sightings had been made of any big cats in the Bridgwater area for nearly four years, until Wednesday night (January 17).
Stephen Rolph couldn’t believe his eyes as he made his way up Buncombe Hill on the Taunton side of the Quantocks.
"At first I thought it was a dog but as I got closer it was obvious it was no pet," the 45-year-old told the Mercury.
"It was around four feet long with a three feet tail and a stocky build. It was no more than 30 metres away.
"I just couldn’t believe my eyes. I
had to pull over but it ran off as I stopped. I suppose if I was feeling brave I could have chased it."
The Alfoxton Road resident, who works at BFF on Bristol Road, said he had heard things said about big cats at Enmore Park Golf Club where he regularly plays.
Mervyn Slocombe claims to have seen a wild cat on the practice green at Enmore Park in 1992 and a cast was made of a huge footprint left on the course.
Stephen continued: "It was only 4.10pm and the light was good – I didn’t even have the headlights on.
"I thought people who might have animals in the field nearby or walk their dogs in that area should be aware."