Last year, sheep farmers in Scotland were horrified by a series of brutal sheep mutilations for which no definitive cause was found. Naturally, it was immediately speculated that some sort of large, unidentified feline species was behind the attacks. In the United Kingdom, many of the recurring cryptid sightings revolve around mysterious big cats, feline creatures far too large to be normally associated with the British isles.
There are several famous named examples of these mystery cats, from the Beast of Bodmin Moor to the Beast of Exmoor. One of the more elusive cat cryptids of the U.K. is Scotland’s Clashindarroch Beast, a large cat rumored to prowl the Clashindarroch Forest near Aberdeenshire. While the mysterious feline has so far avoided capture, new remote camera footage is claimed to finally prove the existence of this rare creature once and for all.
Judging from the new footage of the Beast, researchers estimate the animal to be around 4ft (1.2m) in length from nose to tail. The footage was gathered and analyzed by Wildcat Haven, a Scottish conservation group whose goal is to catalogue, identify, and protect the wildcats of Scotland. Wildcat Haven’s Kev Bell told the BBC that despite the doubt surrounding the existence of these beasts, this new footage is undeniable:
I’ve been fortunate to get footage of quite a few of these ghost cats; there’s about 10 to 15 of them here in the Clashindarroch. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw this cat, he is enormous, a magnificent animal. Some people say that the wildcat doesn’t exist anymore but we know different and wildcats like ‘The Beast’ prove it.
Little is known about these elusive and mysterious cats, and most of the information known about them comes from footage gathered from remote wildlife cameras. It remains unknown how these species have survived in the region and avoided hybridization with other feline species as has happened with many of the extant large cat species, although recent studies suggest hybridization and crossbreeding may be less common than was previously thought.
“Sure,” you say, “it’s just another big dumb cat.” That it may be, but the fact that there are still unidentified species roaming around not far from populated areas shows how much there is still left to discover about the natural world around us. Remote and infrared cameras are just a few decades old; who knows what other mysterious creatures still elude scientific study in the remotest parts of our planet?