The Beast of Burford has seemingly returned after two retirees spotted not one, but two black panthers near Oxfordshire! Michael Grainger and his wife were shocked to encounter the wild animals a week ago in the countryside and are urging the authorities to conduct a search and find them.
The beasts have been living and breeding in the area surrounding Oxfordshire for decades, although that was never confirmed. There have been numerous sightings of black panthers in the area in the past which culminated when one was found just opposite the Masons Pub in Brize Norton back in 2005. The beast was never found, but its legend lives on through the picture hung up on the pub’s wall.
Now, residents of the area are fearing that the infamous creature has returned. Grainger, 72, said that the two creatures were relaxing near the river. He described them as “bigger than a Labrador” and black. Grainger watched the creatures cuddle through his binoculars before they disappeared into nearby trees. The man is sure what he saw was panthers and has notified the police about it.
If what Grainger saw were panthers indeed, then fears of some people that the wild cats are breeding in new areas and conquering land may be true. The couple was interviewed by the police and wildlife experts. However, the same experts say that it’s very unlikely to see two of these big cats together – they claim that what Grainger saw was most likely a jaguar or leopard. Most of these cats were released in the wild after keeping them for cats became illegal in 1976.
Just over a year ago, a mom from Oxfordshire was knocked off her feet by a large black panther in the middle of the city’s main road. Lisa London, 43, says she’ll remember the horrifying encounter for the rest of her life. She also says that she never saw something so beautiful. The woman never heard of the ‘Beast of Burford’ before, and after the encounter, she immediately googled it.
According to Oxford native Steve Archibald from bigcatsightnings.com, black panthers in the area have been seen on several occasions before Mrs. London’s encounter. He has received over 40 calls about panther sightings in the past decade and believes that the cats are definitely breeding in the area.
Experts from the British Big Cat Society agree that the area around Oxfordshire is ideal for big cats due to all the woodland around. However, they don’t believe that what Grainger saw were panthers – it’s more likely they were melanistic leopards, which looks similar to a black panther.
Although the beasts have been dismissed as rural legends, many experts are warning that big cats in Britain are very likely to exist. There were several investigations in the past decade, though not one provided any concrete findings. Still, if you are from Oxfordshire, we’d be looking over our shoulder.