About The Book

BIG CATS  – Facing Britain’s Wild Predators

RICK MINTER

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.

Contents

Preface

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

Camera ready?

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

Research potential

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

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Responses

  1. Great that you’ve written this, Rick, can’t wait to get my copy!


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