Copyright of British Big Cat Society
On the tail of the tiger
by Chris Osborne
It's been 14 years since this still image from a video of a big cat in Cottenham was taken. Since then numerous other sightings have been made. We track the movements of the Fen Tiger up until its most recent appearances and ask, could it exist?
The Loch Ness Monster, the Abominable Snowman, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. They are just some of the Great British myths that have yet to be proven as fact or fiction.
Where and when?
The Fen Tiger, which if in fact is a big cat is definitely not a tiger, was first reported in 1982 in Cottenahm. Many others mused about big cat sightings for years after but it wasn't until 1994 that whiskers were twitching again.
Joan with prints Courtesy of Cambs Times
It was then that William Rooker managed to capture on film what he believes to be a large cat. The British Big Cats Society have provided us with a still from the video (top left).
Filmed in a field near the Oakington Road in Cottenham the video lasted two minutes and shows, according to the British Big Cat Society, "what is almost certainly a large cat-like animal".
A year later two police traffic officers claimed they saw a large black feline in the Westwick Hall area, a few miles from the filming of William's video.
On its travels
From 1995 numerous reports of big cat sightings in other parts of East Anglia had existed, ranging from Holbeach in South Lincolnshire, Wisbeach in North Cambridgeshire and the relative safety of cover in Theftford Forest.
This could mean that the animal likes to travel, that there is more than one, or that lots of people in different places are just getting it wrong.
In May 2004 the Cambridge Evening News printed a story featuring Vernon Whiterod, a Cambridge University cleaner, who claimed he had spotted an animal similar to an ocelot, a large cat native to Central and South America, in between Histon and Waterbeach.
However, recent eye witness accounts point to a north Cambridgeshire return for the mystery beast, signifying that the animal feels more at home in the Fens that make part of its popular Fen Tiger moniker.
So let's fast forward to March 2008. Jackie from Manea, situated between March and Littleport, recalls seeing a large dark cat stalking in the fields at the back of her house.
"We keep thinking about selling up. Because it petrifies me at nights now, I won't come down the garden."
Her daughter Loraine was calling in the family's dogs when she caught sight of our feline friend.
"It had big green-yellowy eyes and it started crawling towards me as if it was going to pounce on the dog."
Powerful looking animal
On top of that Roland Mott, from March, got within 50 yards of the beast in Turves, midway between Whittlesey and March.
"I'd guess it was three to four times the size of a normal cat... Definitely panther like. All black, very sleek, not shiny but a sleek, powerful looking creature."
Courtesy of Cambs Times
"In fact I was quite sceptical at some of the alleged sightings, but I take it back now."
The Cambs Times printed photos of large cat-like prints found in Chatteris on 31st March, 2008 (in picture).
Joan Peacock's dog had been barking loudly at something the night before she found the prints.
Could it really happen?
Stay tuned to the BBC Cambridgeshire website as we talk to a big cat expert about the likelihood of the Fen Tiger's existence.
last updated: 03/04/2008 at 11:03
Have Your Say
Have you sniffed out the Fen Tiger? Think it's all a bunch of feline lies? Give us your thoughts.
Ben Hollis aged 13
c. Hollands and sons ltd
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