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EP:106 Forest vibes – Argyll’s big cat calls

Janet is based in a remote corner of Argyll. She was unaware of the area’s long history of big cat reports until events kicked off close to her house in 2023. She explains the warning calls and the sightings she experienced locally and coincidentally when visiting Aberdeenshire. 

Janet is a professional photographer and explains how she is adapting her range of camera kit in preparation for big cats, especially in darkness and low light.  

 Word of the week:   guttural

 9 February 2024

EP:105 Top corner cats – tracking the Caithness leopards

We hear from Paul, an investigator near John O’Groats in north-east Scotland.  He re-tells several big cat sighting reports from recent years, and he explains his use of trail cams, night vision cameras, and lures.    

Last summer he followed up a local black leopard report, then found himself in a dense woodland with a growling cat just a few feet away. The scary incident took a twist later that night… 

Words of the week:   nape bite

17 January 2024

EP:104 Sherwood & Shropshire – glimpses in the Greenwood

Adam’s Grandfather’s once had a big cat sighting in Sherwood Forest and now, decades later, Adam has just experienced a large black cat in the same area – we hear the details in this episode.

Adam also discusses several big cat encounters he’s heard of from friends and contacts in Nottinghamshire and Shropshire, as well as some perfect footage of a puma he was shown. As an ecologist he meets people in remote parts of the English midlands who are in prime positions to witness wildlife. He also considers the niche available for big cats in the British landscape, and he explains how a lifetime of observing wildlife can bring the odd surprise. 

More notes for the episode at:  bigcatconversations.com/refs-links/

Words of the week:   niche   &   vigil

27 December 2023

EP:103 The spectre at the stables – big cats bothering horses

We hear Sue’s experience after 10 years’ worth of big cat sightings and incidents around her stables in Essex.

Her daughter and sons have had close sightings, and in one of Sue’s encounters she was next to a black panther in the stable yard at dusk.

Sue describes some severe impacts on two of the horses after close confrontations with a big cat, and she explains the ongoing extra costs she is faced with in feed and vets’ bills, managing the stables alongside the varying visits of big cats. 

Words of the week:   foxlights  predator deterrent

11 December 2023

EP:102 Fight or flight? Cumbria’s cornered cat

Charles reflects on his two encounters with a black panther or leopard, 21 years apart, both while caravanning and trekking in Cumbria. 

For the first incident Charles was in touching distance of the big cat as he entered his caravan awning and discovered it there – Charles recounts the moments he found himself closed in with a panther beside him… 

 Word of the week:   catstycam

 19 November 2022

EP:101 Lake District leopards

We catch up with Cumbrian investigator Sharon Larkin at the end of the Westmorland Show where Rick and Sharon were meeting witnesses and visitors to the big cat stand.

Sharon explains how she follows up reports on her Facebook page, Big Cats in Cumbria. She describes several of her own encounters with large black cats and she justifies why she believes these are leopards, including the one she photographed near Gretna in 2014 as it spooked cows and consumed a rabbit.  

South West investigator Paul Ramsden visited the show and also chipped in, comparing Cumbria’s big cat landscape with his home base in Gloucestershire. He and Sharon recount their highlights from people’s reports at the big cat stand at the show. 

We are also joined by Ian, Sharon’s husband. He describes his own big cat sighting and he and Sharon reflect on the family’s experience living with the subject and owning two cats bred from servals… 

More show notes, photos and messages are on this link…  bigcatconversations.com/refs-links/ 

Words of the week:   savannah cats

30 September 2023

EP:100 Where the wild things are

For our centenary show we met with 25 contacts in a Herefordshire pub, to talk big cats, sample the local cider, and eat celebration panther cakes. 

We heard sighting reports from Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Dorset – two of which were genuinely ‘close’ encounters.  David, one of the witnesses, also described the perfect footage he’d been shown of a black leopard in Herefordshire.

Mark Graves led a discussion on tracking and ‘where next?’ for investigating big cats, and we heard different views on how best to use a sum of £5,000 for getting more evidence. 

When we discussed big cats in our culture, Fleur reminded us of Roman finds in Britain in which the Greek god of wine and dance Dionysus is accompanied by a panther… 

Look out for Youtube extracts of this episode 100 to be linked on the Big Cat Conversations website and YT Channel in late August 2023.  

Word of the week:   spoor

19 August 2023

EP:99 The dumping grounds – exploring the rogue wildlife

Phebe has been following-up big cat reports in different places for 30 years.  She’s been trusted with local information on big cat incidents, and has witnessed a lynx in Hertfordshire and two black leopards together in SW Wales.

We hear of her own cat encounters and some memorable information she’s received from friends and contacts experiencing big cats. We also discuss whether the reported cats may be staying close to the sources of their first releases, or if other suitable areas are becoming a sink for them.   

Words of the week:   exotic animals  

29 July 2023

EP:98 Derbyshire dales – hidden homes of the big cats

Gareth is a reporter for local papers in Derbyshire and joins us as another journalist guest on the podcast, following Tristan in episode 94. 

Gareth has had a long-term interest in big cat encounters and has glimpsed one himself. He explains how big cat stories get high hit rates in the media, so local newspapers welcome news of people’s sightings.  

Gareth describes some key big cat events in Derbyshire, including the release of lynx at the former Riber Castle zoo, the long-running Carsington Beast reports, and a farmer finding his dogs confronting a lynx.  

Gareth also reflects on the time he received a hoax report and photo, and Rick refers to some recent big cat cases in Derbyshire and a TV show episode due in Summer 2023 which features Derbyshire big cat cases. 

See our Refs and Links page at  https://bigcatconversations.com/refs-links/  for details of the May 2023 YouGuv survey on people’s belief in big cats living wild in Britain. 

Words of the week:   media algorithm

7 July 2023

EP:97 Crossing paths with a Glastonbury panther

In the first half we hear from Jayne – she caught sight of a black panther with several of her jogging friends one morning this year in Somerset. Other friends had previously told her of their alleged reports at the Glastonbury festival area. 

In the second half, Mark Graves returns after episode 95. He reflects on a recent day spent with big cat investigators in Gloucestershire, and he explains how he survived a crocodile attack during his time in South Africa.      

Words of the week:   aposematic colouration

17 June 2023