Report from Reuel Chisholm
Two members of a holiday fishing group have sighted a black, panther-like
animal at the banks of the River Deveron, near Banff.
The mysterious creature was spotted twice in two days near the bottom section of the Lower Mountblairy beat, adjacent to Auchenbadie Farm.
On the first occasion, the beast crossed a vehicle track while the second time it walked several yards down the side of a field before disappearing into trees.
The two fishermen who saw the animal are convinced it was neither a cat, dog, fox nor any other recognisable species.
The first sighting of the animal was on Sunday evening, when Eric Kett from Norwich was driving on a track near the Deveron.
He said: "This black animal crossed the road about 30 yards in front of us, and it was about 6ft long, including a bushy tail.
"It was about the height of a retriever dog but had a cat's head, although larger than normal. I have never seen anything like it before, and it was just so unexpected."
A similar animal was spotted on Monday evening by Dr Malcolm Walder, who is on a fishing holiday with Mr Kett and two other friends.
He said: "I was fishing when I looked up and saw an animal like a panther come walking down the side of a field.
"I had a clear view of it because it was no more than 50-60 yards away and it walked down the side of the field and went into the trees. There is no question it was a type of beast I have never seen before."
Dr Walder, Mr Kett and two friends, Roger Gibbons and David Brooks, are staying in holiday accommodation provided by artist Michael Kitchen at Wood of Shaws, Alvah.
Mr Kitchen said: "There have been sightings of a mysterious black animal in this area in the past."
The appearance of the animal coincides with an announcement that a Scottish group involved with the investigation of big-cat sightings has received charitable status.
The Scottish Big Cat Trust provides public access to a database of over 1,200 sightings throughout the country.
Reported sightings of big cats are relatively common in the North-east, and earlier this month, a black animal the size of a Labrador dog was seen on the outskirts of Peterhead.
Animal experts believe 100 big cats are roaming in the wild throughout Britain.
Press and Journal, 27 th August 2003
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