For reports on this attack this see Cat attacks ABC hunter.
I put forward this description of the circumstances surrounding the Sally Dyke incident and would welcome the opinions of others.
The following was described to me during a discussion I had with Quentin Rose. I am aware that people have varying opinions on Quentin but I would say those who criticise and badmouth him have never had the pleasure of meeting him in person. He is a reputable and respectable individual with a deep understanding of wild animals and cats in particular.
The alleged incident:
The events leading up to the incident are highly relevant. Mr Dyke (an ex-soldier) was aware that people were reporting sightings of big cats on Exmoor, and the Royal marines had tried to hunt down a big cat that was alleged to be killing livestock. The Royal Marines did not succeed in their operation.
Mr Dyke decided to have a go and he spent two weeks on the moor, his training had equipped him well for such an exercise but in the time he saw no sign of a cat on the moor.
Mr Dyke returned home.
It was some time later that Mr Dyke and his wife Sally learned that a large cat had been repeatedly sighted around the village of Inkberrow, Worcs.
They decided this may be an opportunity to make a name for themselves and prove that big cats were present in the UK, although their method was perhaps a little too ambitious and some would claim downright irresponsible and dangerous.
Mr and Mrs Dyke set up a hide in the Inkberrow cemetery where it was alleged a leopard had been seen in recent days. Mr Dyke had brought along a high velocity rifle (as one does when hunting big cats).
Mr Quentin Rose learned of these events and went to the graveyard to advise the Dykes that this was a foolish way to behave, not just because of the risk to themselves should he shoot and injure the cat but the risk to the public from high powered rounds whizzing through the village!
Mr Dyke apparently would hear no sense so the police were notified and thankfully Mr Dyke did take notice of the warning he received and the rifle was removed from him.
However, later the same day Mr Dyke returned with his wife to the cemetery armed with a handgun to spread a bait of chicken innards to lure the cat out into the open.
As they made there way through the graveyard Mr Dyke took the lead. One can only imagine his horror as he stepped on a large cat that had lain hidden in the undergrowth. Mr Dyke later described the unbelievable speed of the animals reaction. The cat ran and in its attempt to escape it collided with a tree. Now in a blind panic the cat turned and ran straight back from where it had come - towards Mr Dyke - causing him great alarm. Mr Dyke was struck by the cat as it reared up and knocked him aside with a blow to the chest. The cat then continued on unchecked towards Mrs Dyke who had been following her husband. Once again the cat reared up and this time it swiped out, catching Mrs Dyke over her right ribs. The raking claws penetrated through her wax jacket and a thick wool sweater before contacting with her skin.
The injuries on her show the typical claw marks of a large (leopard sized )cat - four lacerations plus a fifth 'tick' shaped wound that was caused by the zip of her jacket when the cat made contact.
I have heard many opinions regarding the authenticity of Sally Dykes's injuries. It is my opinion that the injuries are genuine and were sustained during an encounter with a large feline in the incident described above..
Dr John Murray, Scottish Big Cats
Thanks for the posting - it certainly sets out a more detailed story than previously available. I don't know Quentin Rose so cannot and will not comment on him or his involvement.
Mr Dyke seems to have been intent on proving something and the whole circumstances would suggest a hoax - the rifle removed & the need to justify his (armed) presence, the eagerness to "make a name for themselves" (which may cloud objectivity). If taken at face value their behaviour is utterly irresponsible. Not sure of the cat's escape technique - feasible but unlikely I would have said.
Where can I get hold of pictures of the wounds caused to Mrs Dyke? What about medical reports at the time - re these available in any way? If a wound was still tender and visible some time later this must have required medical attention and I am sure the unusual circumstances and nature of the wounds would not pass unnoticed by any doctor or nurse.
I am in no position to challenge your opinion: I would seek answers to the above questions to allow me to form my own opinion. Any ideas where I could find this stuff?
Thanks for sharing your thoughts - and expressing a definite opinion. It's easy to pull things apart and to identify gaps in a story, but it takes courage to take a position and let others comment.
Phil Crosby, Scottish Big Cats
Does anyone know Sally Dyke at all? The slash by claws is not typical of a cat attack from what I know, although not impossible. I would have more credence in this if the coat was still around to be matched up to the scars (and four months seems a long time for scars still to be healing/tender...). Without knowing her I don't want to say it's a hoax but there are plenty of "researchers" who are less than scientific in their methods and not above perpetrating a hoax.
Phil Crosby, Scottish Big Cats
Your assessment of the Sally Dyke incident sounds much the same as my own regarding Josh Hopkins, not impossible but highly unlikely. Now however, I'm of the opinion that the marks shown on Josh Hopkins are impossible considering the described circumstances.
I saw a film of the alleged scars on Sally Dyke's ribs. From what I could tell, they do look consistant with what we would see if swatted by a big cat, but only through clothing. In this case, it was said to be a coat, and the coat would bear holes rather than lacerations. The incident described does not sound consistant with a cat attack. Unless she was somehow blocking the animals exit, it is unlikely for a cat to launch such an assault.
I had previously mentioned that the severity of the scars should discount the possibility of the wounds being self-inflicted. This article describes her as an expert and veterinary lecturer, so I dont know which to believe.
If I had to bet on it, I would have to go with a hoax.
Ben Wilis, Scottish Big Cats
I firmly agree with you - the Josh Hopkins attack is clearly a hoax, and of a poor quality. I have seen a young man in Zambia who had a leopard swat his face (he came across it in his fathers goat corral, and it went for him as he opened gate to see what was disturbing them) and the damage was considerable - certainly not need parallel cuts, more like a set of fairly deep puncture wounds, then dragged across his face removing a lot of flesh and causing significant infection (guess the cats don't always disinfect their paws when handling meat!).
I would be interested to see the film of Sally Dyke's wounds - and of the coat. Given the report said it was a wax jacket I would expect tears rather than neat puncture wounds (I caught my wax jacket on barbed wire recently and it tears quite easily) unless cut with a knife. Also, in a graveyard cat would have easy escape route and would only really be likely to attack of protecting cubs. Like I said originally, without knowing Sally Dyke at all I don't want to say it is a hoax, but it has the hallmarks of one to me.
Phil Crosby, Scottish Big Cats
This is a photo of Sally Dyke's injuries, and the first time I have looked at the still picture.
Initially, I had said I believed the marks did look consistant with an assault from a big cat. Now, I'm inclined to retract that opinion.
I think even if there did exist a doctor's report, it would reveal very little as far as proof. Few physicians have any experience in big cat wounds. If she claimed this was caused by a leopard, no doubt the report would show the same.
As to the photo, this was the first opportunity I have had to see a still. I'm reasonably sure this is a hoax, clearly these marks overlap which isnt possible from a single swipe, and cat claws do not reverse. Since they appear under her arm, I dont believe anyone will keep an arm upraised allowing for a second swat. The marks also appear to have an even depth which is inconsistant with feline claws. Ordinarily, through clothing, the claws will penetrate the cloth, but are pulled away from the flesh.
Initially, I had said the story was suspect but the wounds might be authentic. Now, I believe both to be false.
Ben Willis, Scottish Big Cats
You're right of course - I'd be surprised in many UK physicians have any knowledge of big cat wounds. I was thinking that if the wound were self-inflicted to support a story, the medics may have recorded potential for self-infliction. Also, I would expect significant infection from a cat wound - dead meat under claws etc. I met a guy in Zimbabwe who'd been scratched by a lion through bars of a cage (he worked in a captive breeding programme) and his arm was very badly infected through this. Apparently the wound itself was relatively minor.
The more I see of this the more suspect I find the report. I believe it to be a hoax
Phil Crosby, Scottish Big Cats
Concerning cat claws, it has been my experience that infections rarely occur as the result of cat claws, more particularly wild cats. The claws are usually kept very clean and are rarely exposed to soil. When a hit does occur, the wound is fairly shallow, and its usually open enough for bacteria to escape. I can honestly say, with the virtually hundreds of claw-hits I have taken, I have never had the slightest infection, and I have never treated the marks with anything. The teeth are a different matter, but thats another subject altogether. There is a disease called "cat-scratch fever", contrary to the name, its caused by exposure to the feces of feline. In some cases, the exposure might come from the claws, but unlikely with a wild cat. To my knowledge, there is no species of wild feline, including the samler ones which cover their feces with soil. This seems to be a habit only shared by the domestic cat.
As to the Sally Dyke photo, I recall seeing a picture sometime ago where the scars appeared more severe . Even more curiously, I think if the marks had overlapped as they appear in this picture, I would have noticed right away.
There is a skin condition called dermographism. Its harmless and painless, but the slightest marking over the skin will cause a welt to appear which closely resembles that which we see in the Sally Dyke photo. Fifteen minutes later, the marks completely disappear. A good example can be seen at http://www.dermnet.org.nz/index.html. The picture on this site is not an exaggeration, and it does look closely the same as we see in the Dyke picture.
If anyone is familiar with the true story of the young man for which the Exorcist novel was created, he also had this skin condition which allowed him to mark his skin with words and pictures creating the hoax.
Ben Willis, Scottish Big Cats
I would agree with the assertion that you would expect to find a whole host of bacterial agents in the wound, many of them leading to some sort of septic reactions (unless a thorough clean was undertaken very quickly). These would be from the claws picking up bacteria from the ground, rarely from their kills, as most cats do
tend to clean their claws after kills.
Looking at the picture two things are clear. Firstly, this photograph was taken a long time after the event (several weeks to several months). Secondly, if the wounds were self-inflicted then the trajectories would be about right given a knife like a craft knife, given that all of the wounds following a crescent moving down and then up. This would be the normal action of a hand moving in that position, given the normal range of movements of the left shoulder. Again, without a much clearer photograph, showing a detailed view of the wound region, little can be said. I do not think that we can discount the story on what we have seen so far but this photograph does not add much to the story either.
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