Documentary filmmakers claim to have unearthed an exceptionally clear photograph of a large feline roaming the British countryside. The image was found within the archives of a zoological organization and captures a robust black cat resting in tall grass in Smallthorne, Staffordshire. While the accompanying handwritten note bears a date of March 17, the year of the photograph’s origin remains uncertain.
Experts have stated that if the image is genuine, it is likely the finest photograph of a British big cat in existence. This photograph is a key piece of evidence featured in an award-winning documentary exploring the existence of such felines in the British landscape.
A spokesperson for the documentary, “Panthera Britannia Declassified,” released on Amazon Prime by Dragonfly Films, revealed that the photo offers an unambiguous depiction of a large cat belonging to the Panthera genus, even showing the creature’s whiskers.
The photograph is intriguingly attached to a mysterious handwritten letter, which includes a date without specifying the year, lacks a full sender’s name, and omits an address. Nonetheless, it does mention when the photo was taken, potentially making it the most compelling British big cat image to date.
The documentary also presents new DNA evidence, indicating the presence of at least one wild big cat near a sheep-kill incident in Gloucestershire in July 2022.
Tim Whittard, the documentary’s producer, emphasized the film’s data-driven approach, relying on rigorous scientific research and expert analysis. The team dedicated thousands of hours to researching archives, libraries, museums, laboratories, and eyewitness accounts. This meticulous effort aimed to provide an objective and analytical perspective on the issue.
The documentary reveals a poignant aspect of this narrative: until 1976, it was legal to own big cats in the UK without a license, and they were fashionable status symbols. When regulations on exotic animal ownership changed, many people released their big cats into the wild. Consequently, the big cats sighted today are primarily the descendants of these abandoned pets.