Report from Nick Wirsten
THESE are the never-been-seen-before images from sensational video footage of the Creature of Cardrona.
The amazing three-minute film has sent shock-waves throughout the world of big cat experts. And is believed to be the first large white cat ever caught on tape in the UK.
John Smith, a business development manager, shot the film on a hand-held video camera from his home in Cardrona on Friday, December 13.
Although the beast was around a half mile away, John's zoomed images captured the large cat leaping onto a five-foot wall before prowling along the stone dyke.
John explained: "I first noticed a white animal at the top of the field which we can see from our kitchen. My wife, Violet, and I both thought it was a sheep, but all the other sheep had crowded in the furthest away corner. I had a look through my binoculars and instantly recognized it was a very large cat."
The development manager then made a mad dash for his video camera, and the following few minutes are recorded for history.
John continued: "It s not the best camera in the world, but I zoomed in as much as I could. I was shaking with excitement as the cat sprung from the field up onto the dyke. It was like nothing I d ever seen before, really, really big and pure white."
The Southern went with John to the exact spot where the creature was filmed, and, using the video images, estimate the cat is between four and five feet from tail to nose.
Big cat experts are now eagerly scrambling to witness the tape after being alerted by The Southern.
Scientist Phil Crosby, from Scottish Big Cats, has only viewed the distorted still images sent by The Southern. He said: "This is definitely a cat, but we have to establish just how big it is. The still shots are blurred, which happens when you take them from video, but it is still clearly a cat.
"Pumas can be as light as silvery grey, but this appears to be pure white. Even Snow Leopards have markings.
"At the moment this has me stumped, and I will be making arrangements to see the actual video.
"I am inclined to think this is a big cat, but it is very difficult to give an explanation."
A farmer near Cardrona reported his horses being regularly spooked during the same weekend that Mr Smith filmed the white cat.
The Tweed Valley has become a hot spot for big cat sightings this year with more than 20 reports. A farmer s daughter spotted a large black cat, believed to be a melanistic leopard, in June near the same spot as the large white feline was filmed this month.
And local political aid Lisa Brown almost struck a large brown cat, while driving through Clovenfords in September, and mystery raged in Galashiels during the summer as numerous household cats went missing on Gala Hill. Print casts were taken from Gala Hill, proving that a large cat had been roaming in the area.
A Labrador-sized brown cat was seen near Innerleithen in April, crawling beneath a gate then pounding into nearby woods.
Even in the past few weeks, a large black cat was spotted crossing the A7 at Mosspaul Hotel, where a number of chickens had disappeared.
But no large white cats have ever been reported in Scotland, although a few sightings were made in England.
Southern Reporter, 24 th December 2002
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