Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 17th, 2006
Mon 18 Sep 2006
It’s a jungle out there as exotic beast sightings in UK soar
MORE than 10,000 sightings of wild and exotic animals have been reported in the UK since 2000, and the figure is set to grow, according to a new study.
Some 5,931 sightings of big cats, 332 of wild boars and 3,389 of sharks have been reported.
The British Big Cat Society has reported a dramatic increase in sightings of the creatures in recent years, with 2004-5 figures already up 3.5 per cent on the previous year’s study.
Animal sightings since 2000 also include 51 wallabies, 43 snakes, 15 owls, 13 dangerous spiders – including a tarantula and a Black Widow – 13 racoons, ten crocodiles, seven wolves, four eagles, three pandas, two scorpions and one penguin.
Chris Mullins, founder and co-ordinator of Beastwatch UK, who compiled the data, said: “Since the start of our organisation [in 2001], the number of reports has increased at a rapid rate, including monkeys stolen from zoos and private collections to colonies of wallabies and wild boar – and more unusual reports such as a chinchilla found in a post box, to a piranha in the Thames.
“It is clear that the UK contains far more exotic wild animals than the British public could ever imagine.”
Exotic animal sightings have increased as a result of climate change, zoo thefts and animal escapes.
The south-west of England is the big-cat hotspot, while wild inhabitants of Leicestershire include numerous racoons. And in Oban, several monkeys have been sighted in the area.