BIG CATS – Facing Britain’s Wild Predators
ABOUT THE BOOK
Right across Britain people are making remarkable claims – they are reporting large cats resembling panthers, pumas, and lynx. Month after month the sightings continue. People from all walks of life are having surprise encounters with big cats in safe suburban Britain.
How have these animals established themselves and what are their implications? Written in an engaging style for a general audience, this book addresses the main questions relating to these unofficial cats. As we realise that our wildlife may be more complex than we thought, the book helps us come to terms with big cats being present in our own outdoors.
Photographing these stealthy creatures is not easy, as eye-witnesses and wildlife film-makers explain. But tell-tale signs of the cats include droppings which reveal their diet, freshly eaten deer, hair samples, and tracks. The book looks at the evidence and discusses what to do about big cats in our landscape, from whether we should put up information signs to how we could learn about these secretive animals.
The book has many surprises – about the cats themselves and the human reaction. Men and women, young and old, urban and rural, the response is similar – people have experienced something truly wild. As we realise we are living alongside large predators there are mixed emotions, and the topic becomes a discussion about ourselves and our modern-day links with nature.
They may be awkward to admit to, but these cats are part of our land – evolving in Britain, shaping the ecosystem as a new alpha predator. Many people would rather keep it quiet. But it is time to tell the secret in a measured way. This book explores the dilemmas we face as we discover our emerging big cats – the mystery animals that are becoming real.
About the author:
Rick Minter is an environmental consultant. He helps people and organisations develop solutions to the environmental challenges they face. He is hired by public bodies as well as rural, wildlife and community groups.
He also advises people on big cats. He runs talks and workshops to discuss big cats and the issues they present. He has chaired expert meetings on the subject, briefed scientific bodies, and pursued sightings with Britain’s most experienced trackers. He has glimpsed and sensed some of these animals for himself, but wonders on how many more occasions they have seen him.
Beyond the anoraks
A mystery becomes real
Our self and our hidden nature
1. Coming to Your Senses
The cut price safari here and now
The discovery stage of Britain’s big cats
Re-wilding for real
We’re all in this together
2. The Lore of the Cats
The big cat casts its spell
Branding the beast – the new folklore emerges
The best known hoaxes
The Britannia Panther, Cougar Celtica
3. Seeing and Sensing – the grey evidence
The weekly revelation – what people see
Spooked dogs, quivering horses
Scaling a photograph
So many sightings, but so what?
4. Cat People – the sleuths and trackers
The investigators – what they find and what they see
Big Society for big cat tracking
5. Red in Tooth and Claw – signs of an apex predator
From the poo to the prints – looking for the signs
Checking a carcass – the big cat’s signature
What do footprints tell us?
Hard evidence confirmed
6. Every Possible Cat – classifying the misfits
The allure of the panther
The puma in the living room
Adaptation and its effects
The Dangerous Wild Animals Act – before and beyond
Blobs in the distance – a few snapshots
7. How Many Cats and where do they go?
Counting the invisible
Following the tracks, setting the cameras
Thinking like a predator
What the deer manager sees
A parallel universe – Australia’s vagrant cats
Back in Britain – knowing where to survey
8. Hidden Wildlife – what counts in the ecosystem?
The predator and its prey
Aliens – or a carnivore doing its job?
Wild nature, beyond our control
Consider the lynx
9. The Tooth and the Truth – who is in the know?
The can of worms stays closed
Staying in our comfort zone
Passive government, Active police
Parliament cat chat
Bodies on the roadside
When big cats cause a commotion
10. A Covenant with the Cats
Our mixed emotions amongst big predators
The people’s verdict – what the surveys reveal
Cats up close – a discussion on safety
Signs that don’t scare
Understanding, troubleshooting and learning
The rules of coexistence
11. A Calling from the Wildwood
A meeting with the lynx
A foot in the wildwood
The Panther and the Stag – a true story, ending unknown…
Annex 1. Every possible human