British Big Cat Researchers

Shadowy Beasts that Haunt our Moors and Imaginations

A website to act as a base for a group of British Big Cat Investigators who actively pursue hard evidence wherever it should present itself in the British Isles.

Big Cats in Britain

Mark Fraser

March 2007 -

A Cat is a Cat, is a Cat!

The Big Cats in Britain group (BCIB) came about by accident, it certainly was not my intention to create such a group, far from it. Now it has grown into a nationwide and yes even world wide big cat research centre. Di Francis can claim the credit for that whether she likes it or not. It was her books in the early 80s that inspired me to take up the quest which I must admit has become an obsession.
It was in the early 1980s when I began to search for evidence around my home area of East Yorkshire. I met many witnesses and made many mistakes, more importantly I made many new friends, and learned a lot.
In 1999 I decided to try and bring researchers together to share information and help build a bigger a picture of what might be occurring. I was not the first to try this but was the first to succeed, in a fashion! This took the form of an internet mailing group and it grew from there. Gone are the days of letter writing and typewriters! However for various reasons its not possible to bring everyone together. The BCIB prides itself on teamwork, facts, honesty and friendship. We are also very aware that nothing we do now is new; it has all been done before.

The BCIB consists of people with one common aim which is, to discover exactly what the species of cats roaming the British Isles are. There is no doubt that they are here, and have been for a long time. The questions are, what are they? how long have they been here? how many are here? and why do the facts, when looked at , indicate an unidentified species?. Although some group members may disagree with me on this point. The investigation of big cats is our primary concern. Also the confidentiality of our witness’s personal details and location of sighting, if that is their wish.
Members of the BCIB each have their own opinions and ways of working, we may not always agree with each other on everything. That we can disagree and work towards a common goal is one of the strengths of this group. We are based in several parts of the country and have active contacts the length and breadth of the British Isles. The BCIB is open to membership and encourages it. At the time of writing we have members the length and breadth of the British Isles, the Irish Republic, Australia, USA, France.... with new people joining all the time. The group welcomes members who have differing interests such as , remaining passive and just browsing our web site or news gathering , attending and arranging vigils. Each has an important role to play. And we keep each other focused when we might be tempted to go off track! Members of BCIB include researchers, authors, police officers, scientists, zoologists, environmentalists, soldiers, housewife’s, truck drivers and others. As with every organisation there are key members Shaun Stevens based in Argyllshire has recently completed gathering all the Freedom of Information on exotic animals kept in this country, which was no mean feat? Others include Jan Williams, Alan White, Hannah Fraser, Brian Murphy, Terry Dye, Rob Cave to name but a few. We are also associated with other research groups, most notably the Rutland & Leicestershire Pantherwatch Group run by father and son team David and Nigel Spencer. They have provided extensive information on large cats in and around the Leicestershire area for the last ten years, have made many positive contacts with PWLOs, zoos and land workers.

Our aims and objectives are:

  1. To gather as much evidence and information on the British big cat as possible.
  2. To Compile a county by county sightings register
  3. To investigate on site whenever possible.
  4. To discover exactly what species of cat is roaming the British countryside.
  5. To discover how they came to be present or if indeed they are an indigenous species
  6. To Respect witnesses confidentiality at all times
  7. To Collate the biggest online archive on British big cats
  8. To take conclusive video or photographic evidence that cannot be disputed.
  9. To open a small 'museum' displaying the information that the group has

Our field research concentrates on attempting to obtain conclusive video or photographic evidence that cannot be disputed. Photographs of livestock kills, prints, as well as big cats themselves. All are most welcome, as is video footage. All evidence submitted will be returned.

At present my main area of activity are vigils, maintaining a watch with a hide, with photographic and video equipment, although I still enjoy meeting the witnesses. Some people think vigils are a waste of time, and say "I cannot see the point of it" or "you'll never see one." In fact I have had three positive clear sightings while doing such vigils which rather knocks those comments off the shelf somewhat. I would not have had these sightings had I not been out there, its as simple as that. These are real flesh and blood creatures, that need three things, food, water and a mate. Ideally we need a permanent hide for at least three months if we can realistically hope to achieve positive results. But with modern day living, work and family life this proves to be impossible to achieve. The only way we can do this is by a rota system and a whole load of people ready to brave the elements. Are you one of those people?

We have talked to very many of witnesses all over the country. Respect is always given to a contact and we always follow any instructions given by them such as confidentiality and keeping the sighting a secret. We have been called in by farmers, factory sites and the MOD to name just a few, in a bid to discover what animal is roaming their particular stretch of land. Our core of experts in different fields are all on hand to offer advice.

BCIB have their own website at or with a member’s area which displays all the latest sightings. We have a vast archive of news clippings which are available to all to browse at their leisure. There are sections on many aspects of the subject for you to peruse and hopefully add to. And you are welcome to add any comments you wish to make. At present there are over three thousand pages on the website and it continues to grow.

BCIB have taken part in several TV documentaries and shows . There are several more in the pipeline to watch out for. We are more than happy to assist any radio, television company or journalist with their research into this subject. What we will not do is make up reports or fake evidence for the sake of a story. We do not make any outrageous claims or falsify reports in anyway, nor will we pass on witnesses details without their permission. We are searching for the truth however dull, boring or exciting that may be.

BCIB hold social events each year the main item being the conference. We always have a great line up of speakers for your enjoyment, and we give you the chance to ask them any questions you wish. The event is open to non-members too. It is held in different parts of the country each year. We discuss and debate in a friendly and open manner to help further our knowledge and understanding on a subject that for some of us is a way of life.

Our yearbook is very successful, it contains a round up of sightings, articles and major events that have taken place.

Members share their sightings, and can also access the national database. They follow up sightings, conduct field investigations and night vigils.

Membership is £10 a year (at the time of writing) with special membership packs becoming available in the near future, benefits include:

  1. Access to the members area.
  2. A personal webpage!!
  3. Six newsletters a year keeping you up to date on what the group has been doing
  4. Access to the members only mailing list where you will be constantly updated on what is happening when and where.
  5. Updated information of sightings in your area, along with the chance of investigating locally on our behalf, and more importantly with our back-up
  6. Listed on the website as an investigator for your area
  7. A chance to attend the vigils we hold every year in the hope of finding evidence.
  8. Attend social events
  9. Become a member of the biggest and most active big cat research group in the UK.

The main artery of the group are the witnesses, without you we simply would not exist. I commend the people for taking the time and trouble to tell us of their encounter, an encounter that many people did not ask for or particularly want. Many former sceptics have been converted by their chance meeting and become active members in the field of British Big Cat research. We are appealing to you to report any sightings that you may have had, no matter how trivial you may think them. There is a form and an address included at the end of this chapter which you use for reference.

Photographic evidence and video footage are very important, we ask you to report any such material to the BCIB, no matter how long ago it was taken. We can copy your footage onto DVD or video tape for you and even make extra copies.

The BCIB receives reports of shootings by farmers and many road kills, however what is essential, is retrieving athat body. BCIB is not a money making organisation, but good photographs, video footage and especially a body can make the photographer or finder some remuneration. All we ask is you report any such occurrences to us in the first instance. We want nothing other then to gain this evidence, and with our extensive contacts BCIB will make sure that any money earned will go straight to you. But we need that evidence!

One word of caution that we will offer to the witnesses concerns the finding of prints: Many people have a genuine sighting but in their enthusiasm (and understandably so) they look for evidence and may find a print, usually its a dog print no matter how big it is; this will detract from the sighting and make others want to dismiss it as a dog. Be very careful with prints before you approach the press. We will be happy to tell you what animal made the print first, to save frustration in the future. But we do ask that you will not be disappointed if the print is identified as that of a dog. Do note if the print shows claws then it is most probably not a cat; prints look bigger in mud and tend to display and in this case, size isn't everything!

Report A Sighting
Your report is much valued, even if you have reported it to others in the past and no matter how trivial you think it to be. Your experience will help us estimate the numbers of cats, their territories and habits etc. All data except your personal details will be added to a database. Sightings today are a common occurrence you are not alone. A report of a big cat in the British Isles and Ireland average three a day. We are always interested to hear from you.

Witness Comments

Thank you, I have been very impressed by the courtesy shown by your members and I will be vigilant when I am on my travels as I feel it is only a matter of time before there is some sort of incident.

It sounds like a well thought out and professional organisation. I'm happy to share more but sadly no photographs yet. I caught a possible sighting again this evening of a dark catlike movement but at night time with night vision equipment. Is there any funding yet into research into big cats in Scotland? Definitely interested in your conference and I would also be keen to see any field reports from the Scottish Borders etc.

It is over 40 years since the first public spate of sightings hit the headlines with the Surrey Puma, yet we are still no closer to solving the mystery. Hybrids? or a relic, indigenous species that we never knew existed alongside us, ever since the Ice Age?
BCIB average three sightings daily from all over the countryside including Ireland, in fact people these days are more likely to see a big cat rather than a pig.
Large unidentified felines are here in the British countryside, that much is blatantly obvious to all but the most blinkered.
In the past there have been pumas and lynx caught and shot and instances of leopard and other jungle cats run over. However the true British mystery big black cat, has long eluded capture. It is now time to progress with this mystery and find out conclusively what these cats are. We cannot do it alone, report your sighting, your news, your video footage and pictures along with any other hard evidence that you may come across is highly valuable.
The BCIB are planning to open a museum. This is in order to display any artefacts which we have and may have in the future. Sightings and news reports will also be available on microfilm.

It is always the tree laden with fruit that gets the stones from the passers by (Sai Baba)