Report from Chris Smith
Scotland is the "alien big cat" capital of Britain, according to research unveiled recently.
Nearly one in six reports of a strange feline shadow in the undergrowth or the haze of an oversized moggy dashing across a road were made North of the border, according to Fortean Times. Of the 487 last recorded sightings over the past three years, 78 were in Scotland. The next hotspots are Gloucestershire 55, Cornwall 52, Sussex 45, Devon 42 and Wales 41. The magazine on strange phenomenon and experiences says sightings of what it calls ABCs - Alien Big Cats - have risen steadily since the first sighting in 1963 and rose dramatically last year. A brush with one of the elusive creatures - which are typically leopard sized but black or brown with a long tail - has become the most common encounters with the unknown, according to the magazine.
But the true number of sightings may be much higher as many are never recorded. Editor Paul Sieveking said: "How these ABCs entered Britain is still unexplained yet evidence shows that sightings of ABCs are on the increase." Recently and Aberdeen woman claimed that a cat like beast jumped in front of her car, while she was holidaying in Sutherland, with her two young daughters. The incident happened around 10 pm at the Mound Bridge, four miles south of Golspie on the A9 trunk road. Ms Gunn said: "It looked a powerful beast, with pricked up ears and massive legs. It seemed to cross the road and into the trees in two bounds." A giant black cat was also blamed for the mutilation of a swan which was torn apart in a late night attack near a house in Lunanhead, rural Angus in January. There have been a string of sightings of the "black cat of Angus" by residents of Brechin, Letham and Carnoustie, going back several years. There have also been persistent reports of a mystery cat in Fife. It has been estimated there may be more than 100 leopards and pumas roaming the British countryside. The first sighting of a strange cat was made in Surrey in 1963, according to the Fortean Times.
23 rd June 2001
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