I can be contacted on thehighlandtiger@yahoo.co.uk

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

A question for Big Cat Researchers

My Namesake The Highland Tiger aka The Scottish Wildcat, is officially Britains rarest mammal, with recent data indicating there could be as few as 400 left in the Highlands of Scotland.
The Scottish Wildcat Association is doing some sterling work in conserving this wonderful animal. Along with the Cairngorms Wildcat Project they aim to re-populate parts of Scotland with the wildcat.
Now part of their work involves the use a camera traps in order to calculate the number of wildcats left. And they have been very succesful in doing so.

So the question I would like to pose.

If we are able to get clear photographic evidence of the rarest mammal in Britain, an animal that lives in the remotest, and least inhabited part of this island, an animal only a few feet in size, then why are we not able to get an image of a black leopard, one of hundreds that some people believe exist in the UK, that exist in areas of high human population, and are many many times larger than a wildcat.

Every mammal in the UK has been photographed with clear images, even the rarest. But not one clear picture of a big cat. The question has to be asked. Why not?


  1. Could the answer simply be! that like bigfeet these cats are naturally blurry which prevents a clear photo? ;¬)

    Nice blog...looking forward to your Loch Ness post.

  2. The Loch Ness post, will take some time to put together. But hopefully it will appear before the end of the month.

  3. Richard Ashworth4 May 2010 at 20:51

    I have often wondered about this, I mean if trailcams can pick up tigers in the dense, vast jungles of Cambodia, then why is getting a decent pic of an abc such a struggle in this country. I think that this is because even though the cats are here, they are here in very small numbers, and are constantly on the move, making it hard to get a trailcamera snap. For the record I doubt these animals are black leopards.

    Cheers, really enjoying reading the blog, and look forward to your views on the stegasaurus carving.

  4. Richard, you have hit the nail right on the head, and you mirror my thoughts exactly.

    The cats are here, most definately. But not in the hundreds. If you had to press me, I'd say there are no more than perhaps a couple of dozen puma's and leopards in the entire country. The rest of the sightings are of overgrown ferals, similar to what appears to be happening in Australia.

    Some people wish to believe every witness sees a genuine leopard, I need just a little more proof than that. 99% of all "big cat" pictures that get aired in the press, are of largish domestics/ferals. Yet these people are convinced they saw a panther. If 99% of these sightings are mis-id's, then it's fair to say that only 99% of sightings without pictures being taken will also be mis-id's.

    But it's that 1% that keeps my interest going......:o)

  5. Well even here in Florida, our Panthers have been photographed clearly and run slightly larger than half the size of a cougar or mountain lion. There are many ferals that are mistaken for these rare cats. On the other hand, there have been some seen that are much bigger, leading to the belief that some seen are juveniles. 6 of one, half a dozen of the other.

  6. Quite frankly there are not that many cats here to catch on a camera. And how many cameras are out there, we need a hell of a lot more if we are to catch them on film. I love what anonymous says, most probably true, these cats are naturally blurry, nice one. Many of the prints that come in are dog or fox, and nearly every photograph shows a domestic cat. But now and then we will get a genuinbe cat print, and DNA analysis that confirms black leopard. Admittedly few and far between. In other words there are not that many cats out there to actually photograph and it is going to be by sheer chance if we do catch them on camera.

  7. Whilst I have never seen a big cat in the UK I firmly believe they are out there. I recently went to a talk by two people from Florida who study Puma. They said that they have about 100 puma in Florida and thats not enough to keep a breeding population alive. They have a lot of trigger cam pics and pics from everyday people just seeing these cats whilst out and about. Noe if we in britain have a breeding population of cats how come we dont have anything like that? Like I said I am a believer (check my website www.bigcatsinkent.org) but I still ask why we carnt get a good photo?.......