Report from George Markie
Experts remained divided last night over the origins of a mystery big cat found dead in the North-east.
Theories included that it had escaped from a wildlife park, or that it was a bobcat or a wildcat. And one local man said it was the offspring of a bigger puma-like cat which is still roaming the Boddam countryside.
Buchan farmer Bill Duffus came across the 3ft-long cat's body while out shooting rabbits last week, but part of its head was missing.
Paul Paterson, of Glasgow Zoo, said: "It seems it has been part of a private collection, perhaps from a local wildlife park. A European wildcat would be about calf-height and would be about twice the size of a normal cat. It would be easier to tell had the head been intact because they have distinctive ears.
"The other thing it could be is a bobcat, which is like a puma, very hairy, and almost indistinguishable from our wildcats."
Ian Turner, of Longleat Safari Park near Bath, said: "The tail and its coat instantly rule it out from being a lynx although it is a similar size. Leopard cats can also be around this size.
"It seems very much like a Scottish wildcat, which are similar to domestic cats but bigger. But this is big even for them."
Terry Wright, of Rocksley Drive in the village of Boddam near where the cat was found, said he had regularly seen a cat the same size as his German shepherd dog while out walking beside the village.
"The cat which was found could possibly be one of its young. I have seen it with two younger ones before but I have never been very close to get a proper look at them."
Mr Wright said the cat he has seen weighs around 90lb, is 5ft long, without a bushy tail, and he thinks it is jet black but he has never seen it in daylight.
The creature would feed off rabbits, he said, adding that his dog Tara had become friendly with the puma-like cat.
But he does not want to reveal the whereabouts of the cats because he fears they would become a magnet for hunters.
"I am very much for animal welfare and these creatures don't cause anyone any harm.
"If I said where I saw them then there would be someone who would want to be a hero and say they had captured the Beast of Buchan."
Mr Duffus, of Newton Farm, found the cat just off the Peterhead-Boddam road, beside the power station, last Wednesday.
It was around the size of a fox or a medium-sized dog.
But the legend of the Beast of Buchan looks likely to live on.
Over the years North-east farmers have added weight to claims of big cats by reporting sheep being killed with their bones picked clean in a way only a big cat could do. The discovery of this creature is the first time any carcase has been found to substantiate their existence.
Press & Journal 2 nd May 2002
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