THE ELUSIVE Cotswolds big cats could be running out of places to hide thanks to help from the other side of the world.

Cirencester’s Royal Agricultural College has been supplied with 20 motion-detecting cameras by Australian communications company Swann along with electronics store Maplin to help track down the mysterious moggies which many believe are roaming the Cotswolds countryside.

The cameras are part of a study to gather more evidence of the existence of the frightening felines.

The study is being overseen by big cat researcher and author Rick Minter, who said the cameras would be placed around routes frequented by wild mammals such as streams and trails.

"Even in their native countries, cats such as pumas and black leopards are rarely seen," he said. "Here in Gloucestershire, using these cameras in clusters of two or three will give us a better chance of filming any such cats in their territories."

With sightings in Cirencester, Tetbury, Lechlade and elsewhere, the legend of the big cat has been a long-running obsession in the Cotswolds In 2005 a mysterious creature was caught on CCTV near Cirencester Hospital, fuelling rumours that more than just tomcats are prowling the streets.

Gloucestershire big cat expert Frank Tunbridge, who has been tracking the elusive beasts for more than 25 years, said the cameras would be "very helpful" in finding out more about the mythical creatures.

"The more cameras we get out there the more chance we have of getting close up footage of these animals and that’s what we need to ascertain what’s out there any convince all the doubters," he said.

"I get about two sightings a fortnight reported to me so I know they’re out there but like most mammals they’re very elusive – they don’t really come out in the day."

- For more on sightings of big cats across the Cotswolds and throughout Gloucestershire read the articles under the related links tab.

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