Essex Wildlife Trust respond to black panther sighting in Sible Hedingham

Sible Hedingham.

Sible Hedingham. - Credit: Su Anderson

Essex Wildlife Trust has responded to reports that a black panther has been sighted in a rural village in the county.

A resident took to social media claiming to have seen the animal walking near the river bank in Sible Hedingham and posted a paw print photo on Facebook.

Darren Tansley, Essex Wildlife Trust Water for Wildlife officer, and co-author of ‘Mammals of Essex’ book, said: “These paw print photos are not of a big cat but a dog, cats walk with their claws retracted but here a claw mark is detectable.

“These photos were taken after the sighting, so although in the same area as the potential black cat, are unrelated. So, unfortunately we can’t say one way or another.”

Mark Iley, Essex Wildlife Trust biodiversity co-ordinator, said: “We have had big cat reports from this area before – and elsewhere in Essex.

“Although I’m a bit sceptical about big cat sightings, it’s always possible and I didn’t see it. Certainly, big cats could survive in our landscape, as there is plenty of food and they can be incredibly secretive.”

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