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
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
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
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
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
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
Rob explains his boyhood interest in the Exmoor Beast and roaming local woods for signs of big cats. Now living in British Canada, Rob encounters different wild animals on his regular mountain hikes. He describes his recent close observation of a dark coloured Canadian lynx, and his family’s confrontation with a growling stalking cougar.
Rob explains why he carries protective bear spray and knives in his rucksack after seeing black bears close to his hiking trails, and he discusses how local people adapt to living alongside cougars and bears.
Rob finishes by commenting on recent night-vision footage taken in Devon and available to view on the Big Cat Conversations website, Refs & Links page for episode 86.
Word of the week: slesse
21 November 2022
Bob received big cat reports in the 1990s during his career with Warwickshire police – it became more real on duty one night when he saw a black panther himself.
John our second guest also served with Warwickshire police – he investigated a crashed car incident one night in 2003 when his police dog Russ let him know there was something about, as a panther emerged on the scene…
John discusses his experience working with dogs in the police and currently with Cornwall Search Dogs, and he and Rick consider how dogs could be deployed for tracking big cats.
Words of the week: scat detection dogs
3 November 2022
Don saw a black panther or leopard in Derbyshire in 1989 at a time when local farmers and police were reporting sightings of a big black cat in the Derbyshire press.
Don retained his interest in the topic and brought a thermal camera in 2022 to film local wildlife and hopefully a big cat. Within a few weeks he noticed one of the blobs on his thermal footage was cat shaped, and larger than any foxes and badgers he had filmed. Seeing the shape again Don concluded he was indeed filming a large cat. It is judged to be around 109 cms from nose to rump.
Don discusses the thermal footage on this episode. A selection of the video recordings and stills taken from the videos are on the Big Cat Conversations website, under ep 84 of the Refs & Links page.
Word of the week: monopod
13 October 2022
We join investigator Paul Ramsden for a visit to two big cat sighting spots in Gloucestershire. We look out along the edge of the Cotswold hills and then go deep into a hidden valley woodland.
Paul explains how mammals including big cats would use the woodland and he considers prime places for trail cameras for filming any large cats. Rick describes past panther, puma and lynx reports in the area and Paul recounts his own past big cat sighting that happened in Dorset.
Words of the week: a glaring of cats
28 September 2002