The Rutland Panther
By nora_hs | Tuesday, March 22, 2011, 19:12
Ever since I arrived in Rutland, some ten years ago, I have heard rumours about the Rutland Panther. Presuming it was nothing more than an urban myth I took little notice, until I started to make friends with the locals and was surprised at just how many had actually seen, or knew someone who had seen the big black cat.
Nowadays, it’s often on my mind as I walk my mad but loveable dog Charlie far and wide, in an effort to wear him out and save the remainder of my home and garden from destruction.
Charlie, is what is known in certain circles as ‘bomb proof’; meaning that there is very little that frightens him. So, when his attention was roused, by something other than a cat or rabbit, in a field not too far from my home in Oakham, I admit that I was a little worried. Suddenly our saunter changed into a quick hike, with me constantly looking over my shoulder.
My thoughts turned to the Rutland Panther and how awful it would be if Charlie and I stumbled across him, alone and miles from home.
I decided to do some research with startling results.
The sighting of A.B.C. (Alien Big Cats) have been recorded since the 1970’s, an era when it was trendy and legal to own an exotic animal; you only have to read the story about Christian the lion, owned by Ace and John, who bought him from Harrods and kept him in a plush London apartment.
Sightings of A.B.C's are so common that there is actually a website dedicated to them and a section on the home page refers to the East Midlands and in particular Oakham: "first (sightings) occurred in the early 1990's, and were concentrated around the County of Rutland, 25 miles east of Leicester. Again, two distinct large cats were reported. One of a Puma, i.e. a light sandy brown coat and the other a (black) Panther. The sightings grew and eventually encircled the county town of Oakham, due west of the massive Rutland water reservoir."
More recently, Nicola Squires of Whissendine reported a sighting on Saturday 12 March 2011 and told the Rutland and Stamford Mercury “It was very black and had a brown sheen and it ran off very quickly towards Northfield Farm,” Ms Squires later came across a set of large paw prints, which were about seven inches across.
On Friday 03 September 2010, Farmers Weekly Interactive reported that motorist Peter Base claimed to have seen "a black cat-like creature" which he described as "bigger than my large Alsatian". The cat walked across the road in front of his car as he passed Greetham Valley Golf Club, near Oakham.
What should you do if you encounter an ABC?
Adapted from advice given by bigcatsorg:-
- If walking a dog, get it on a lead immediately as a panther will only attack if threatened, and will keep away from you if you have a dog close at hand.
- Don't turn your back and run off, instead back away slowly.
- If you are unfortunate enough to get attacked (!!!) make yourself appear as large as possible and gather other persons in your group together. Make loads of noise and if you have a whistle, use it. Try to avoid turning away and be prepared to use a stick.
- If you are involved in lamping foxes at night, be vigilant as there has been a high percentage of night sightings by persons engaged in such pastimes. If you hear the classic wood saw sound of the Leopards cough, then it’s wise to leave the area ASAP.
- Finally, if you do go out walking in an area of recent reports, keep your eyes open for unusual activity, sheep in a group, or local wildlife missing or distressed and again listen for the classic sounds. If it’s a Puma, you may hear the bird like chirp of the female to her young, or the aggressive wildcat type sound that is very loud and unnerving in a wood.
Have you seen the Rutland Panther?
Oakhampeople would be thrilled to hear from you, if you have seen this notorious big cat and especially if you happened to have a camera with you during the encounter and (if your hands aren't shaking too much), have photographic evidence!