Did you know that South Yorkshire is a hotbed for sightings of big cats prowling its more rural areas?
Perhaps less paranormal, with dozens of photographs taken from around the country, South Yorkshire has become a bit of a hotbed for sightings of the mysterious ‘big cats’ that are rumoured to prowl the countryside.
The Beast of Bodmin is well documented, but according to information released by South Yorkshire Police under a Freedom of Information request, there were around 500 reported sightings in the region each year between 2016-18.
People reported seeing ‘big cats’, pumas, panthers and even lions and tigers stalking the rural areas around our towns and cities over the period.
In recent years, there was a reported sighting in Bolsterstone in 2018 of what an eye witness said she “could only describe as a puma.”
She went on: “I know that the chance of seeing such an animal in the wild, especially around these parts, are practically nil.However this was a huge beast by feline standards and was about two feetÂ tall on all four legs.'It seemed to be staring towards us but got spooked and took off towards the farmland adjacent.
There have also been a plethora of sighting of a panther stalking areas around Doncaster - the most recent in 2019, when resident Jessica Clark saw the creature.
Speaking at the time, she said: “When we got close to it, I realised exactly what it was and it was terrifying.
“When I realised what I’d seen, I just started panicking. It was massive and very muscular and definitely a big cat. It was quite frightening to see something like that up close.
She had spotted the creature on White Rose Way, connecting the town to the M18, she said.
The creature was seen again by lorry driver Alan Tomlinson in 2017, who said he had seen a ‘panther’ near to junction one of the M180, close to Doncaster services.
Later the same year, trucker Graham Byram said he saw a trio of highways workers struggling to lift a huge dead animal into the back of a truck on the A1 near Harworth.
There have also been big cat sightings in the Armthorpe and Askern areas in recent years, as well as other parts of South Yorkshire.
Big cat stories go back to the early 1960s when it was fashionable for the wealthy to keep the likes of lions and tigers as pets, but the practice was forbidden in 1976 and, while many gave their pets to zoos, it is believed that some released them into the wild, where their offspring still roam today.
Another theory is that in Victorian England and through the 20th century, wild cats were a common feature of many travelling circuses, and some could have escaped over the years - leading to sightings from around the country.
And while none of the mysterious creatures have ever been captured, modern technology has turned pretty much everyone into photographers, so evidence of the ‘big cats’ is only likely to increase.