Essex may have grabbed the lion’s share of attention but the county is not without its own reports of big cat sightings.
On August 31, an Oakham soldier and his wife spotted what they believed to be a large cat prowling through the undergrowth at Wakerley Woods near Corby.
A few days before, a sighting had also been made in Barnack near Stamford.
Samantha Timms and her husband Kevin reported what they had seen to Leicestershire Police as they were concerned for the safety of other people and livestock. It was about 8pm when they saw the animal while out walking their dog.
Samantha said: “We were walking through the woods when my husband saw something and thought it was a black labrador, but when he got closer he realised it was much bigger.
“I told him to stop messing about, as I didn’t believe him at first. When I saw it, it was only about 150 yards away and I know what I saw.
“A few people I have told thought it was funny but I know what I saw. When you see a deer, as soon as you get close it runs away, but this turned and looked at me. My husband wanted to follow it but I just wanted to get out of there.
“It was black or dark brown, a bit bigger than a labrador and it had a long tail. The most striking thing about it was the way it walked, it prowled, like a cat.”
Samantha said she was too stunned to think about taking a picture and the animal was gone before it crossed her mind.
Both encounters were reported to Nigel Spencer, who runs Rutland and Leicestershire Panther Watch. He said: “What concerned the people in Wakerley Woods was the fact that the animal made no attempt to run away, it just stood and looked at them. There have been scores of sightings by the public and rangers in Wakerley Woods and nearby Fineshade since the early 1990s, although I hadn’t heard of a recent one.”