Leopard hair clarification

*more recent clarification can be read here*

I should probably make it clear that the views in this blog post are my own and don’t represent the other people who were present in Longleat Forest on the day we found the hair sample that has caused much excitement.

Today I had the October 2010 edition of The Fortean Times delivered in the post and in it on page 4 was an article by Lars Thomas detailing several hair samples he had dealt with recently.

Firstly I should point out that Perry & Colin are from the Four-Teans and were simply joined by some members of Wiltshire Phenomena Research,

Included was the hair sample that Wiltshire Phenomena Research found in Longleat Forest earlier this year. When Colin took the hair sample to the Weird Weekend with him it had already been tested by Rentokil (a team member works for the company) and the analysis had come back saying that the hair was feline.

Colin took the hair for further study by Lars Thomas to the CFZ Weird Weekend where it was identified as a Leopard hair. A lot of people have become excited by this, but I haven’t for several reasons.

1) One single leopard hair does not, in my opinion, prove that a leopard is living in Longleat forest. I would expect there to be other evidence too. Scat, other hairs, prints, carcasses…

2) The forests are not that large and the cat sightings have been of dark coloured cats during the day. Leopards tend to be nocturnal, though daytime sightings are possible.

In their IUCN survey of the literature, Nowell and Jackson suggest male home territories vary between 30–78 km2(7413.2 acres – 19274.2 acres), but just 15–16 km2 (3706.5 acres). Longleat Woods  is 617.5 acres and wouldn’t be large enough to be the sole area for a Leopard, therefor, I would expect there to be other sightings from the area surrounding the woods of the cat.

Not to mention that close by is the Safari Park who would probably be aware if there were cats prowling the locality, which they aren’t.

3) I cannot rule out cross contamination. I am not suggesting for one minute that the hair was planted or swapped. However, because I have not observed the whole process, from the hair being collected to the hair being tested I cannot say with confidence that somewhere along the way the hair got mixed up by accident – or, indeed, as I was not at the testing, that a mistake was made (again, I am not commenting that it was, I just cannot rule it out).

As the points above point out, there are numerous reasons why I am not happy to say “there is a leopard in Longleat” because to do so would be to make a leap of logic as there isn’t, in my mind, substantial evidence to suggest this is the case at all.

I cannot deny that it is intriguing that a possible leopard hair was found in Longleat Forest, but I’m not going to make any hasty decisions over what significance it may hold, if any at all…

Advertisements

About Hayley Stevens

Hayley Stevens is a podcaster, blogger, writer, public speaker and ghost geek. She likes tea, cake, sci-fi books and being a humanist.

Posted on September 9, 2010, in cats, cryptozoology, rational, the team, thoughts. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Sounds like the most open-minded approach. Very interesting finding, but it does seem like quite a jump considering the lack of any other significant evidence.

  2. Sounds like the most open-minded approach. Very interesting finding, but it does seem like quite a jump considering the lack of any other significant evidence.

  3. I’m a skeptic and I research and test local supernaturalists who claim to have paranormal abilities. Also, academically I’m a biologist. So this kind of thing isn’t really what I’m used to, but I’m happy to cast an investigative eye on the whole thing. I’ve decided to sit and have a think about this, making the assumption that the hair was definitely found in the woods, and that it is definitely a leopard hair.

    How does a leopard hair get into the woods? It’s very odd that a leopard is wondering around in the UK without getting seen more often or leaving behind better evidence, but it is also odd that a person could accidentally leave leopard hairs. I mean, how many people have access to leopards? But according to this entry, the woods are found near a safari park. Now, if any UK woods were to have a single leopard hair found in them, it would surely be woods located near to a Safari Park or zoo. Does the Safari Park have big cats? According to their website, yes. I couldn’t find mention of leopards, so I’ve sent an email. If they do have a leopard, we have captive leopards within miles of the woods. Staff from the safari park may have accidentally carried the hair to the woods. Hell, wind could have carried the hair.

    Given the lack of evidence that would be expected from such an animal (faeces, carcasses etc) in this habitat.
    I’d be interested in seeing an another independent expert also identify it as leopard hair.

    • It is not an assumption the hair was found in the woods…..It was found in the woods!…I’m getting rather resentful of people implying the hair was planted, switched, or manipulated. It’s not a case of ”oooh look there’s a hair, lets bag it in the hope it might be a leopard” either. There was a reason we were looking in the exact spot where the hair was found, it was’nt pot luck. ie there was circumstantial supporting evidence. Ok I can understand that people may say two of the persons present may have a vested interest, But there was also one impartial witness present.

  4. I’m a skeptic and I research and test local supernaturalists who claim to have paranormal abilities. Also, academically I’m a biologist. So this kind of thing isn’t really what I’m used to, but I’m happy to cast an investigative eye on the whole thing. I’ve decided to sit and have a think about this, making the assumption that the hair was definitely found in the woods, and that it is definitely a leopard hair.

    How does a leopard hair get into the woods? It’s very odd that a leopard is wondering around in the UK without getting seen more often or leaving behind better evidence, but it is also odd that a person could accidentally leave leopard hairs. I mean, how many people have access to leopards? But according to this entry, the woods are found near a safari park. Now, if any UK woods were to have a single leopard hair found in them, it would surely be woods located near to a Safari Park or zoo. Does the Safari Park have big cats? According to their website, yes. I couldn’t find mention of leopards, so I’ve sent an email. If they do have a leopard, we have captive leopards within miles of the woods. Staff from the safari park may have accidentally carried the hair to the woods. Hell, wind could have carried the hair.

    Given the lack of evidence that would be expected from such an animal (faeces, carcasses etc) in this habitat.
    I’d be interested in seeing an another independent expert also identify it as leopard hair.

    • It is not an assumption the hair was found in the woods…..It was found in the woods!…I’m getting rather resentful of people implying the hair was planted, switched, or manipulated. It’s not a case of ”oooh look there’s a hair, lets bag it in the hope it might be a leopard” either. There was a reason we were looking in the exact spot where the hair was found, it was’nt pot luck. ie there was circumstantial supporting evidence. Ok I can understand that people may say two of the persons present may have a vested interest, But there was also one impartial witness present.

  5. I wouldn’t be surprised, IF the hair was leopard, that it ended up in the woodland via a bird picking it up at the Safari Park. I’m sure that most of us who own a dog or cat, and regularly brush them, see the birds swooping down to pik up the loose hair for use in their nests. In fact, last year we found a wren nest made, roughly 50:50, out of my dog’s hair and moss.

    I guess the only issue, raised by Peter, is if Longleat have leopards. I’ve checked and they only seem to have tigers and lions, but where is the evidence to say that if the hair is big cat, it isn’t from one of these.

    Just my £0.02 worth…

    John

  6. I wouldn’t be surprised, IF the hair was leopard, that it ended up in the woodland via a bird picking it up at the Safari Park. I’m sure that most of us who own a dog or cat, and regularly brush them, see the birds swooping down to pik up the loose hair for use in their nests. In fact, last year we found a wren nest made, roughly 50:50, out of my dog’s hair and moss.

    I guess the only issue, raised by Peter, is if Longleat have leopards. I’ve checked and they only seem to have tigers and lions, but where is the evidence to say that if the hair is big cat, it isn’t from one of these.

    Just my £0.02 worth…

    John

  7. I didn’t say it was planted. But that is certainly a possibility, and at the moment more plausible than the claim that there is a leopard in the forest that doesn’t eat, does’t excrete and doesn’t leave any trails beyond a hair. Of course there are even more plausible options than that too. Maybe there is a leopard. But there’s nowhere near enough reliable evidence to make that claim… yet.

    http://www.realityismyreligion.com/pseudoscience/a-leopard-in-the-uk-accusations-biases-and-closed-mindedness

  8. I didn’t say it was planted. But that is certainly a possibility, and at the moment more plausible than the claim that there is a leopard in the forest that doesn’t eat, does’t excrete and doesn’t leave any trails beyond a hair. Of course there are even more plausible options than that too. Maybe there is a leopard. But there’s nowhere near enough reliable evidence to make that claim… yet.

    http://www.realityismyreligion.com/pseudoscience/a-leopard-in-the-uk-accusations-biases-and-closed-mindedness

  9. I was also present when the hair was spotted and bagged, I can honestly say there was no way the hair was planted at all, it was found by one of the group in an area we were focusing on at that time.
    For around an hour leading up to that find there were other findings that were also very odd and could have been associated with a big cat. From some of the comments on this page and a couple of others it seems like people are thinking the group jumped to a conclusion and had a closed mind the whole way, this is not true at all, as I previously said there were other findings throughout the day and for all of the them the group did take a logical approach towards them and managed to find other ways in which these things could have happened.
    It was a pleasure working with the team and I wish them luck in the future.

  10. I was also present when the hair was spotted and bagged, I can honestly say there was no way the hair was planted at all, it was found by one of the group in an area we were focusing on at that time.
    For around an hour leading up to that find there were other findings that were also very odd and could have been associated with a big cat. From some of the comments on this page and a couple of others it seems like people are thinking the group jumped to a conclusion and had a closed mind the whole way, this is not true at all, as I previously said there were other findings throughout the day and for all of the them the group did take a logical approach towards them and managed to find other ways in which these things could have happened.
    It was a pleasure working with the team and I wish them luck in the future.

  11. Ok…Charlie was our independant witness referred to in the previous post. Fot the record i’d like to make the following points.
    Longleat was not chosen at random as an off chance. Other evidence has been found in the vicinity inc scats.This evidence is of course dependant on trusting the person who has found it. An unlikely event. The eyewitness reports from the forest are numerous and go back over many years. It is NOT just one eyewitness report as stated in the original blog above. (since changed)
    If I’d wanted to make up any evidence I could have come up with something better than a single hair.
    Leopards territory can vary quite a lot, it will depend on food and water sources available in any given area.
    I appreciate people always want a carcass, getting one is highly unlikely! But dont think they have never appeared. They have (not at longleat). Put in a freedom of information request to DEFRA, it illicits an interesting response!
    Wild boar, black foxes, wallabies, (I could go on) exist in the UK, how many carcasses are found? Nature has a way of disposing of dead animals, and remember Leopards are naturally elusive even in their native habitat.
    Longleat do not keep Leopards.
    How about a direct quote from Dr Gary Mantle head of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. ”I have never said this before, but we have enough credible sightings for me to believe we have big cats in Wiltshire”
    I would also like to say that I am indeed a member of the four-teans. However I would also class myself as a team member of WPR and was listed as a member until the website was revamped. Hayley was with us that day, but chose not to do the deep forest off track bit, which is fair enough as it’s not as pleasant as you may think tramping through thick undergrowth picking up ticks and cuts.
    As a member though I believe (maybe wrongly, it’s just my opinion) that a certain amount of trust should be placed in a fellow member (unless they have given reason not to, in which case kick em out) If your not going to do that, whats the point in having members? If the only way to get a result worth having is to literally do it all yourself, from finding, transportation, testing etc etc there should not be team members. What’s the point?
    With all due respect Hayley is probably not as adept at tracking and looking for evidence of presence as myself and Perry who have been interested in cryptozoology for many years. I am not anywhere near Hayley in my knowledge of the paranormal.
    I respect Hayley’s views as I do anyone else’s, I may not agree, but im happy to agree to disagree! 🙂
    As a closing remark…..What do you think would happen if big cat presence was proven beyond doubt in the UK?

  12. Ok…Charlie was our independant witness referred to in the previous post. Fot the record i’d like to make the following points.
    Longleat was not chosen at random as an off chance. Other evidence has been found in the vicinity inc scats.This evidence is of course dependant on trusting the person who has found it. An unlikely event. The eyewitness reports from the forest are numerous and go back over many years. It is NOT just one eyewitness report as stated in the original blog above. (since changed)
    If I’d wanted to make up any evidence I could have come up with something better than a single hair.
    Leopards territory can vary quite a lot, it will depend on food and water sources available in any given area.
    I appreciate people always want a carcass, getting one is highly unlikely! But dont think they have never appeared. They have (not at longleat). Put in a freedom of information request to DEFRA, it illicits an interesting response!
    Wild boar, black foxes, wallabies, (I could go on) exist in the UK, how many carcasses are found? Nature has a way of disposing of dead animals, and remember Leopards are naturally elusive even in their native habitat.
    Longleat do not keep Leopards.
    How about a direct quote from Dr Gary Mantle head of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. ”I have never said this before, but we have enough credible sightings for me to believe we have big cats in Wiltshire”
    I would also like to say that I am indeed a member of the four-teans. However I would also class myself as a team member of WPR and was listed as a member until the website was revamped. Hayley was with us that day, but chose not to do the deep forest off track bit, which is fair enough as it’s not as pleasant as you may think tramping through thick undergrowth picking up ticks and cuts.
    As a member though I believe (maybe wrongly, it’s just my opinion) that a certain amount of trust should be placed in a fellow member (unless they have given reason not to, in which case kick em out) If your not going to do that, whats the point in having members? If the only way to get a result worth having is to literally do it all yourself, from finding, transportation, testing etc etc there should not be team members. What’s the point?
    With all due respect Hayley is probably not as adept at tracking and looking for evidence of presence as myself and Perry who have been interested in cryptozoology for many years. I am not anywhere near Hayley in my knowledge of the paranormal.
    I respect Hayley’s views as I do anyone else’s, I may not agree, but im happy to agree to disagree! 🙂
    As a closing remark…..What do you think would happen if big cat presence was proven beyond doubt in the UK?

  1. Pingback: Reality Is My Religion · A leopard in the UK: accusations, biases and closed-mindedness

  2. Pingback: Reality Is My Religion · A leopard in the UK: accusations, biases and closed-mindedness

  3. Pingback: Oi! Tiger! No! aka. More clarification on that leopard hair «

  4. Pingback: Oi! Tiger! No! aka. More clarification on that leopard hair «

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: