EP:96 Gamekeeper big cat diaries

George is a retired gamekeeper in Herefordshire. He recounts his sighting of a local black panther, and many years before, a puma in a forest near Bodmin in Cornwall. 

George also discusses his regrets at shooting an adult black panther as well as what appeared to be a young one, in recent years in Herefordshire – local farmers were experiencing sheep kills at the time. George explains why both the shot cats matched the description of a leopard.

George considers that from his experience, farmers and keepers may tolerate big cats if they avoid sheep predation.     

Word of the week:   DNA

26 May 2023

EP:95 Living with leopards – Africa & Britain compared

Former South African farmer & wilderness guide Mark Graves briefs us on living with leopards in South Africa, where he has guided Kruger National Park visitors and trained trackers on leopards and the Big 5. 

Mark takes us through some of his close observations of leopards and he explains the moments when he once had to face and retreat from an advancing lioness. Now based in Britain, Mark discusses the large cats reportedly living here, and considers how we can live alongside them. 

 Word of the week:   anthropomorphism 

5 May 2023

EP:94 West Country big cats – behind the headlines

Tristan is senior reporter at the Bristol Post newspaper where big cat stories are rare. In contrast, he routinely heard of people’s big cat incidents in his former role with the Western Daily Press.  

We hear highlights of the big cat accounts he reported on, and learn how he realised big cat sightings were a genuine  part of the rural scene. Then one day, a large stealthy black animal arrived in his own local fields…   

 Word of the week:   clickbait

14 April 2023

EP:93 From Oxford to Exmoor – panthers in the pastures

Steve our guest has spent half a lifetime investigating big cat reports in southern England – he takes us through key events in Oxfordshire in recent years, including the search for a puma body, the secrets of the Charlbury panther, and a big cat caught in a cage trap which then went missing. 

We learn about his time volunteering at a big cat sanctuary in Colorado, and hear how he links with his local police contacts. His own sightings include watching a black panther emerge with a friend, who just minutes earlier had mocked Steve’s interest in the topic.  

 Word of the week:   misidentification

25 March 2023

EP:92 The Outcasts – Beauty in the hidden beasts

Alex our guest has had several big cat encounters in South West England, one of which involved a black panther creeping up behind him. He reflects on these experiences in this episode. Rick and Alex also discuss the challenge of raising awareness of large predators while minimising the fear factor.  

We also hear about Alex’s most recent sightings in south Devon, and discuss the interesting results on his trail cameras. 

Word of the week:   cryptic

6 March 2023

EP:91 Scotland’s big cats – from theory to reality

A panther and cubs next to a fishing tent, gamekeepers’ attitudes to big cats, a large cat carcass by the A9, admissions of lynx releases, and recent dashcam footage from West Highlands – we hear of these and other snippets as Paul MacDonald updates us on recent big cat highlights from Scotland.   

We also hear some modern folklore, as The Black Beast of Bin, a poem from 1994, written following big cat sightings in the Huntly area of Aberdeenshire at the time, is sung specially for the podcast by Scottish folk singer Shona Donaldson.  

Words of the week:   Origin stories

12 February 2023

EP:90 Tails from the Stroud valleys

Andy and Claire explain why they are committed to tracking and learning about big cats in the Stroud area of Gloucestershire – we hear about their findings so far, from tree scratches, potential big cat calls, scat, carcasses of potential prey, and tantalising trail camera shots. 

Words of the week:   AI poetry    

24 January 2023

EP:89 The predator’s stare – when time stood still

Louise describes three different large cat encounters in Scotland, including meeting a lynx in her local woodland in Angus. As it noticed her, she felt vulnerable and time became fixed at that heart-stopping moment.

11 years later a friend and neighbour of Louise had an encounter near the same location, on the edge of town – showing that such predators can be closer than we think… 

 Words of the week:   A clowder of cats 

8 January 2023

EP:88 Awakening the Snow Panther

Lewis describes being confronted by a black panther in the Chilterns area back in 2006, on the edge of the Prime Minister’s Chequers estate. Lewis was with three friends messing about in the snow by moonlight, when the panther emerged. Lewis describes events as they fled from the hill.  

Our second guest is the experienced investigator Paulo, who runs the Big Cats of the Chilterns FB page. He updates us on recent trends of sightings across the Chilterns area, and we finish with details of a fresh big cat incident very close to Paulo’s home in mid December 2022. 

Words of the week:   call blasters & hunting decoys

22 December 2022

EP:87 Ireland’s shocked stalker

We hear from Bernard, an experienced stalker in the south of Ireland. He watched two adult black panthers resting in a field one evening in October 2022, as he walked his dog. There seemed to be a  third smaller cat with them. 

Bernard takes us through the incident and tries to make sense of the remarkable scene.    

We finish with news of the big cats poem & limerick competition.

Words of the week:   a destruction of cats

6 December 2022