‘There’s more than one big cat in Derbyshire’, says expert – new thermal images reveal ‘confident cat’ hunt in Peak District

The footage has sparked controversy, but Rick Minter, who runs the BIG CAT CONVERSATIONS podcast and author of Big Cats Face Britain’s Wild Predators, believes the animals have been in Derbyshire for a long time.

He said: “Big cats such as black panthers and black cougars have been reported by people in Derbyshire not just in recent months but for several decades. Many witnesses in the UK describe the cat as confident, graceful and fit, suggesting they are breeding and conditions are improving. In fact, footage taken so far suggests that there may be more than one cat in the area.

In June 2022, the picture of the cat on the wall was enlarged. The thermal camera was set to “black hot” mode. Credit: Big Cat Talks

“Many people have reported what they saw and feel that others will not believe them, so they keep it to themselves. People fear and mock. This is one of the problems with the topic. I think lately more people have been sure to report it because the reports are pouring in – someone might not think they’re weird and talk about it.

“But media reports are the tip of the iceberg. In my opinion, these cats have been around since the war, people had to let them go because they didn’t have meat to feed them. There was a time when they were trophy pets and collectibles, and I believe there were several episodes of their releases that expanded the gene base of today’s cats.

Rick believes the latest thermal images taken in Derbyshire confirm just how confident the big cats are in the area. During the latest episode of his podcast, Rick spoke with a man named Don who took thermal video of a “confident” big cat in the area that the teenagers claim to have seen recently. Videos and photos can be seen on the podcast website.

Rick said: “Some people said the boys missed the black cow. But where the footage of the boys was filmed, there was a dead ram with a black head. Don went to the area and there were no cows or cow dung. “I think what they saw was a big black cat and probably a black leopard.”

Magnified image of a cat foraging in a pasture at dusk in August 2022. The thermal camera was set to “white hot” mode. Credit: Big Cat Talks

Don soon records thermal images of a big cat that looks very confident, and Rick believes that this shows that the cat knows exactly what it’s doing.

“It knows how to search for prey with minimal energy and minimal effort, which means it knows the environment,” he said.

“The cat keeps its environment and stays away from people. In one of the clips, we see that even as the camera rig snaps, the cat hears the sound from far away, looks up in surprise, and quickly moves away to save himself.

“These images confirm that big cats forage for very small prey, as well as acting as stealthy ambush predators in pursuit of larger prey such as deer. By patrolling the pasture, the cat can hunt rodents with minimal effort. When looking for a large prey, the deer can spend a lot of time positioning itself to rush, but often can’t bring it down. Some rewards are guaranteed for the foraging we see in these images.

Rick Minter hosts the Big Cat Talks podcast and is the author of Big Cats Confront Britain’s Wild Predators (Credit Isaac Law)

Rick believes most of the big cats like the one in the video keep to themselves and aren’t likely to attack people, but he advised against going out and looking for them.

He said: “I think there are very few of them and the chance of meeting one is really remote. We’ve had these cats for decades and they’ve been behaving. Better to leave them alone and let people like Don write their footage and learn more about their behavior.

“If you see a big cat, don’t act like it’s hunting. When a cat observes a deer or other potential prey, it looks for the one that will provide the least risk of injury. So if he thinks he’s going to get hurt in a confrontation, he won’t strike. Therefore, you should not behave submissively, weakly and timidly, but confidently and authoritatively, without aggravating the cat and slowly withdrawing.

Having looked at reports over the years, Rick believes there are three species of big cat in England, including the Derbyshire – the black leopard, which accounts for three-quarters of sightings, the black Puma, also called the Puma Mountain Lion. other sightings account for the majority, and about five percent of reports are of lynx-type cats.

Photo of walking on the wall, taken from 165 meters away, June 2022, at dusk. The cat is at an angle and the thermal signature does not fully show the tail. The camera is set to “black hot” mode. Credit: Big Cat Talks

Rick said: “Almost all of the reports are of cats that are fit and they all show that they’ve adapted here, they’ve bred, they know their surroundings, they’re not fresh out of captivity. There are no extremes of temperature in Britain and there are plenty of deer, hares, pigeons and small game.’

He added: “It would help the bigger picture if people who happened to see a big cat reported it to the local media. If we get these reports and observations, we study the color, condition and behavior of the cats. Having these observations is very useful and important.”

“Big cats such as black panthers and black cougars have been reported by people in Derbyshire for several decades.
Having looked at reports over the years, Rick reckons that three species of big cat live in England, including Derbyshire – the black leopard, which accounts for three-quarters of sightings, and the brown puma, as well as the puma mountain lion (pictured) which make up the majority of other sightings and around five per cent of reports. they are lynx-type cats.

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