'Big cat' pictured prowling in Cornwall countryside as expert believes lynx on the loose

AN animal expert believes that there is a lynx on the loose in Cornwall after a 'big cat' was spotted.

A runner claims he saw the animal in a large field when he was out near St Austell last week.

He shared the snap on the village's local Facebook page and said: "Saw what looked like a large cat (could be a fox though) in the field this morning.

"Was zoomed in all the way so image not to clear. Any feline/fox experts out there?”

The post was met with comments from locals, with one resident joking that it should be called the 'Coombe Cougar'.

It was also shared on the Cornwall Mammal Group page, and while some claimed it was a fake, others said it had the same body shape, size and markings of a lynx.

The runner, who didn't want to be identified told Cornwall Live: "I had just finished a run around the local area and was going to stop and take a breather up against a gate as I usually do.

"I looked out across the field and saw a creature which I thought was a dog at first.

“It moved across from one side of the field to the other. The way it was moving I was sure it wasn’t a dog. My next thought was fox, so thought I’d turn my music off and take a video and zoom in and have a look.

“Unfortunately, because I had been running with my phone in my hand, my hand and phone were really sweaty and I couldn’t swipe my phone to video mode. So an image was all I could get. It ended up continuing across the field and then into the bushes.

“After looking at the image when I got home I could clearly see it wasn’t a dog so thought I would put it up on the village Facebook page.”

Rhoda Watkins, an expert big cat tracker in the coastal county, said she is fairly sure that the sighting was a lynx.

She discovered animal faeces which she sent off for analysis and is awaiting the results.

She has trained with the bushmen big cat trackers in Namibia and has been investigating sightings of the big cat in Cornwall and in other locations dotted across the UK.

According to Rhoda, there have been several sightings of big cats in Cornwall, including a puma was seen crossing the A39 at Winnard's Perch.

"During the long months in lockdown the British public have been spending more time outdoors. Our daily outings for exercise have resulted in a surge of interest in our native flora and fauna, and perhaps not surprisingly, multiple sightings of mysterious big cats," she said.

“I’ve been investigating the British big cat phenomenon for many years, more seriously in the last year, and I’m coming across some staggering witness accounts and increasingly, actual evidence.

She added: "I have camera traps set at various locations where big cats have been spotted, hoping to get that conclusive video evidence, as inevitably every photo presented as proof is met with cries of ‘fake’ and ‘photoshopped’!”

Rhoda believes that the animals, if genuine, are proving their ability to live "peacefully" with humans and could be helping to keep our deer and rabbit population under control.

 

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