June 22, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Evidence of the existence of the Cumbria Monster? Scientists find big cat DNA on feral sheep in the Lake District

Evidence of the existence of the Cumbria Monster?  Scientists find big cat DNA on feral sheep in the Lake District

There have long been rumors that big cats roam the British countryside.

Blurred photographs, large, inexplicable tracks and dramatic eyewitness accounts routinely add to the mystery of its existence.

But scientists now say they have found definitive proof that the leopard roams the lake area, after they matched DNA found on a dead sheep to non-domestic big cats.

Professor Reuben Alabi analyzed a sample taken from a sheep carcass and discovered panther DNA, meaning it must have come from a lion, leopard, leopard, jaguar or snow leopard.

He said that the presence of the tiger is most likely on British soil, and that this exciting discovery is the first scientific evidence that non-domestic big cats are roaming in the United Kingdom.

Scientists say they have found definitive proof that a leopard roams the Lake District – after they matched DNA found on a dead sheep to non-domestic big cats (stock image)

Biologist Professor Allaby, who said he had always been “open-minded” about the presence of big cats in Britain, told BBC Wildlife magazine that his test results left him in no doubt that there were cats haunting the Cumbria countryside.

“It makes me a convert,” he said. “On the balance of probabilities, I think this is a real hit.”

The sheep’s remains were discovered by Cumbria resident Sharon Larkin Snowden at an undisclosed elevated site in October.

It disturbed whatever was feeding on the carcass and the animal ran towards a stone wall before disappearing.

“I saw something black running, and at first I thought it was a sheepdog,” she said. “Then I double-checked and realized it was a black cat. It ran towards a stone wall, stopped and jumped onto the wall. It was big, the size of a German shepherd.”

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Larkin Snowden took a swab of the body and sent it to Rick Minter, presenter of Big Cat Conversations, who in turn passed it to Professor Allaby.

He analyzed the sample in his laboratory at the University of Warwick and discovered both fox and tiger DNA. He said the results indicate that the sheep was eaten by a fox and a large cat, such as a tiger.

A grainy image, posted by a Facebook group called Big Cats in Cumbria, matches other alleged sightings in the countryside around Bowness-on-Windermere in the South Lake District.

A grainy image, posted by a Facebook group called Big Cats in Cumbria, matches other alleged sightings in the countryside around Bowness-on-Windermere in the South Lake District.

Professor Alabi said he was relatively confident that the sample, which only contained a small amount of big cat DNA, was not a fake, adding: “If this was a fake, I would expect there to be a lot of DNA for us to detect.” Make sure you find it.

“It would be very difficult to implant a small number of molecules with any amount of dexterity – I don’t think I could do it, let alone a normal person.”

However, Professor Alabi said there was not enough DNA to determine the exact sex of the big cat.

He also said more samples were needed before he could publish research on his findings or say conclusively that a big cat was roaming around Cumbria.

But Dr. Egil Drøge, a predator-prey researcher at the University of Oxford, said he was skeptical.

He told the BBC: “There weren’t any good pictures of big cats from the area, and there were no reports of sheep being slaughtered.” I would like to see more convincing and replicated evidence.

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“If a big cat was roaming around England, you would expect to see groups of sheep being killed. Having a big cat in a confined space, like a field, with sheep, would very quickly lead to the death of many of those sheep. This will not go unnoticed.”

The sheep remains were discovered by Cumbria resident Sharon Larkin Snowden, at an undisclosed high site in October (stock image)

The sheep remains were discovered by Cumbria resident Sharon Larkin Snowden, at an undisclosed high site in October (stock image)

Big cat claims in the UK are not a new phenomenon. The so-called Bodmin Monster has been rumored to haunt the moors in Cornwall since the 1970s, and DNA testing on animal hair found in barbed wire in Gloucestershire in 2022 indicated the presence of a big cat.

There have been many possible sightings in Cumbria since the turn of the 20th century.

In 2015, 26-year-old hotel worker Nitch Bowden spoke to his local newspaper about his fears of being hit and knocked down by a big cat while walking in Tarn Hawes Wood, between Coniston and Hawkshead.

He claimed to have woken up half an hour later with no memory of the attack, but had bruises, a deep five-inch gash on his left shoulder and what appeared to be four claw marks on his forearm.

“I know the whole thing is a bit far-fetched, but it seems very vague and not outside the realm of possibility,” Bowden told the Westmorland Gazette.