Report from Chris Smith
A jogger today described how he came face-to-face with a black panther on a lonely track in the Pentland Hills. John Hope froze when he spotted the creature walk onto the track in front of him. He then watched as it sniffed the air for an instant before leaping into a ditch and disappearing without a sound into a thicket.
Mr. Hope of Colinton, Edinburgh, said: "I have seen a lot of animals when I have been out running on the moors, but never anything as strange as this."
The SSPCA has warned walkers to take extra care in the hills after a rash of panther sightings - and told dog owners their pets could make prey for hungry panthers.
Keen fell-runner Mr. Hope said: "It was definitely a big cat, about the size of an Alsation dog. I saw it from about 75 yards away, and it didn't see me. It was a majestic creature. I must admit it was slightly frightening - but I also felt exhilaration."
Mr. Hope's encounter, near the Balerno SSPCA Centre, comes after a rash of sightings this year. SSPCA chief inspector John Wilson said: "There is no doubt there is something up there. People should take extra care in the hills. They should keep their dogs on leads, because dogs could be food for panthers."
© The Edinburgh Evening News, May 29 th 1997
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