We live in big cat country: Norfolk and Suffolk are a magnet for mysterious beasts that have been spotted in both counties for decades.
The latest sightings were in the village of Bruisyard, near the bridge, where a witness saw: “…a huge pure black ‘cat’ bigger than a Rottweiler” which passed his car near the bridge of the town.
She added: “I swear it was a panther!”
Framlingham’s community page quickly lit up with similar posts, with other witnesses adding their own chat observations.
One wrote: ‘I still remember seeing one of them in the field behind our house growing up. He looked us straight in the eye and growled… You never forget that once you’ve seen one. The one I saw, I’ll never forget his eyes or the sound he made looking at us. He walked to the end of the field and sniffed around a pile of hay bales, then disappeared.
Someone else reported seeing a big cat on the road from Easton to Wickham several years ago, while another shared that their partner was walking dogs in the dark on a side road to Badingham when he spotted a “massive cat’s head” in the hedge.
Other visitors to the page reported sightings in Leiston, Cransford, Sweffling, Cratfield, and a picture was taken of a large paw print in a yard in Earl Soham last weekend, while others sightings placed the creature near singer Ed Sheeran’s 16-acre estate. near Framlingham.
In 2016, student Eliot Evans reported a similar sighting in the area when he came face to face with a frighteningly large feline while out for an evening jog near his home in Wickham Market, around eight miles away.
Then 16, Eliot explained how the creature was between four and five feet long, had wide-set eyes like a cat, and began to act as if to chase him.
And on the brilliant Matt Salusbury’s website, he writes about a big cat sighting he was told about in Mells, on the edge of Halesworth, near the golf course.
He writes: “My witness had just got up and was in his garden, looking at the neighboring fields… It must have been around 7 am.
“Suddenly he saw a big black cat in the field. He described it as a “muscled” house cat, with the same proportions and pointy ears, only HUGE.
“It was so huge that it carried a hare in its mouth – not a rabbit, a hare. I saw a hare near my own domestic cats when they walked near my house, and the hare (an adult male , I think) was bigger than my little tortoiseshell pussy.
“Our huge black domestic cat had long teeth and ‘eyes like the devil’, with which he gazed at our witness. He was glad he only got to look at him for ‘a few seconds,’ he told me. said, so disturbed was he by what he saw. After giving him a casual glance, the big cat walked away and disappeared among the crops.
In Suffolk, police have been told of sightings of cats resembling panthers or ‘mountain lions‘ in the years 2016 to 2019 in Woodbridge, Bury St Edmunds, Eye, Colchester, Lowestoft, Ipswich and on the roads following: B1066, B1113, A1088, A1120 and A1017.
The Lowestoft sighting on June 27, 2018 involved a “wildcat” attacking the informant.
But while Suffolk sightings are many and varied, Norfolk is where big cat sightings are most common.
The county holds the UK record for big cat sightings with more people than anywhere else in the country reporting seeing cats as large as leopards, panthers and jaguars slinking through countryside, villages, towns and cities. even Norwich city centre.
In every district of the county, big cats have been spotted for decades: in fields and on roads, in gardens and in woods, on the coast, in parks and even in someone’s garage.
Ranging in size from “bigger than a muntjac deer” to “bigger than an Alsatian” and the mind-blowing “the size of a moped”.
The Eastern Daily Press can trace big cat sightings back to 1965, when four men spotted a creature while shooting near Larling. In 1993 and 1994 there was a cluster of so-called “puma” sightings in south Norfolk.
In 2009 a man who was shooting rabbits between North Walsham and Edingthorpe said he saw a large black panther-like cat and then found 4ft high scratch marks on a tree, near where he had spotted the animal.
And while Al Stewart claimed the year of the cat was 1976 when he released an album by the same, in Norfolk the year of the cat was most definitely 2011.
Across the county sightings of the legendary Norfolk big cat have reached an all time high as the creature has been spotted at various locations across the county including Bayfield Hall, Burnham Market, Kelling Heath, Felbrigg Hall, Martham, Hemsby, Salthouse, Dereham, Worstead and Buxton.
In 2016, it was revealed that Norfolk Police received the most calls for big cat sightings of any force in the UK, followed by Suffolk.
In August 2016, Lee Norton captured an image of a “Labrador-sized cat” at Saxlingham Nethergate: “I had no idea what it was, but it was the size of a Labrador , but he had a very, very long tail,” he said. .
From 2016 to 2019 sightings of big cats were reported to police in Cromer, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norwich, King’s Lynn, Great Yarmouth, North Walsham, on the A140, A149, Downham Market and Diss in Norfolk.
Danny Bamping from the British Big Cats Society said the Framlingham sighting had been brought to the attention of the group and explained some of the reasons why big cat sightings can be so prolific in East Anglia.
“It’s a very rural part of the country and therefore provides a wonderful environment for these animals,” he said. “Historically many people who owned exotic pets in the 1960s and 1970s owned large properties in rural areas such as Norfolk, Suffolk, Devon, Cornwall and West Wales and these are areas where many sightings are reported. .
“I recently helped a National Geographic journalist work on an article about big cats brought to the UK by American airmen during WW2 and then released into the wild after the war ended.
“There is evidence that mountain lions, bobcats and pumas were brought to Britain and, of course, there are plenty of old airbases in East Anglia.”
Big cats were also available for sale in major London stores until the mid-1970s and when ownership laws changed in 1976 owners were forced to give their pets to zoos or put them to sleep .
Some owners have simply released their animals into the wild and Danny believes many of the sightings reported today are the offspring of these escapees.
Danny pointed to a wealth of evidence about the large creatures, including the shooting of a Northern Lynx near Beccles in 1991: the big cat had killed 15 sheep in two weeks and had been shot by a game warden before to be sold to a local game warden who had he was stuffed and sold to a well-known Norfolk figure.
He added that big cats that have been spotted, captured or found dead in the UK include cougars, cougars, lynx, jungle cats, caracals and British wildcats.
The aim of the Dartmoor-based society is to scientifically identify, quantify, catalog and protect the big cats that roam freely in the UK countryside and members liaise with police, DEFRA and community organisations. wildlife if necessary.
Danny added that people shouldn’t be concerned about encounters with big cats: “We’re a lot more threatening to cats than they are to us,” he said, “if you see a big cat, stay still, take out your phone and take pictures and videos!
The ability of big cats to interbreed and create hybrid species (like the Liger, a cross between a tiger and a lion) leads Danny to believe that many of the sightings could be entirely new breeds. He believes many sightings in the UK are genuine, including the most recent in Suffolk.
Sightings can be reported to the Society on its website at britishbigcats.org.