EARLIER this week, we reported that documentary filmmakers believe new photographs prove the existence of big cats in Gloucestershire.

The article had huge engagement with our readers online, so we have compiled a list of some of the sightings in the county over the last few years.

Britain’s Big Cat Mystery will explore the UK's supposed population of large cats, and as final editing for the documentary was taking place, the team came across new photos from a trail camera placed near the Forest of Dean.

The documentary’s lead researcher, Tim Whittard said: "The photographs have been viewed by a respected and credentialed zoologist who has unequivocally identified the animal in the photographs as a puma.

Read more about the documentary, here.

There have been numerous big cat sightings in Gloucestershire reported over the years.

Last year, Frank Tunbridge, a big cat expert and tracker, said he believes there are at least 50 of the mysterious cats in the county, and he said the cats are becoming less wary of people.

Here are 12 big cat sightings in the county that have been reported over the years.

1. In November 2018, one sighting was reported to Mr Tunbridge after a large lynx like cat was spotted by Dunkirk Mill in Nailsworth, Stroud. Whilst taking an afternoon stroll adjacent to a cycle path, a man claimed to see a big cat with pointed ears.

It was dark brown, around the size of a small labrador with a striped rear end.The man said he had "never seen anything like it" and was amazed.

2. More recently, in May 2020, a woman said she was out walking her dog when she was left stunned after spotting a big cat in the fields and woods around her home in Emerson’s Green in South Gloucestershire in May.

The animal even picked up her scent and began to walk towards her. She said she believed the animal picked up on the fact she was in the area.

3.Also in May, three sisters who were out on a walk said they could not believe their eyes when they saw a big cat which then casually disappeared into a wooded area by Robinswood Hill near Matson lake.

The girls said they were stunned at first at what they had seen.

4. Back in 2012, three wallabies belonging to a private collector were found savaged and stripped to the bone, heightening fears that a bloodthirsty big cat was on the prowl near Stroud.

The gruesome discovery was made by the owner of the creatures and followed a spate of dear killings at the time, which experts said had all the hallmarks of a powerful predator – possibly a puma, jaguar or leopard.

Examinations of the mutilated wallabies have revealed that they suffered puncture wounds to the neck, a sign that the trio were probably the victims of a panther-like beast.

5. During the same year, experts carried out DNA tests on the carcass of a roe deer after they were found at the National Trust’s Woodchester Park, near Stroud.

The injuries to the neck of the deer were thought to be caused by a big cat.

6. That same year, Andrea Lawes of The Grove, Chelworth in Malmesbury said she was in her kitchen at around 5pm on February 19 when she spotted a mysterious black creature walking across the field opposite behind her garden.

“I called for my husband and two other members of my family who were staying with us to come in and we all saw it,” she said.

“It was about 30 meters away from us, but we could quite clearly see it.

“It wasn’t enormous but it was certainly bigger than a usual cat and it didn’t walk like one either – it was quite a determined stride."

7. In 2011, Catherine and Nicholas Toms, from Uley, believe they had a close encounter with a big cat in February whilst walking their seven-year-old Springer, Flint, near to the Uley Bury.

Mrs Toms said: "My husband and I both saw it walking our Springer up there. It was about 25 yards a head of us just crossing the pathway.

"It was sideways on and it stopped, looked at us and just went into the under growth. It was as big as our Springer."

She added: "I was a bit worried walking up there afterwards but didn’t see it again and haven’t seen it since."

8. In October 2018, more sightings were reported to Frank Tunbridge, including one of a large cat which stopped to stare at a man near Hope Mill in Chalford, near Stroud.

On a dark evening (6.30pm) a man was taking his new mattress home on his bike, but he stopped when he noticed what he described as a "big black animal".

It stopped to stare at the man before slinking off in a cat like manner.

Again, he said he was "amazed" by what he had seen.

9. In July 2018, a cat was spotted drinking from a broken water pipe in France Lynch, Chalford.

At 8.30am a woman walked into her garden and saw a dark brown animal with a long-hooked tail.

She thought that the cat must have been searching for water due to prolonged heatwave.

The woman said she "was not surprised as she had heard about them being in the area."

Her neighbour claimed to have seen the same cat that morning.

10. In December 2018, another black cat about the size of a labrador was spotted by a woman driving through the slad valley.

Whilst driving past the woolpack inn, slad a woman saw a cat like creature with a long tail - apparently it was not a dog.

She claims it ran alongside her car before it cut across the bank just before midnight.

11. There has been numerous sightings in the Cotswolds over the years.

At 9.30am on January 12, 2015, Jo Williams was driving around the Cirencester Hospital roundabout with her friend Cynthia Hart when the pair spotted a big cat on the land in front of the Roman amphitheatre.

The animal, which the pair described as long and black and as big as a medium sized dog, was seen near the place where Cirencester resident Mary Holker spotted a big cat in January 2012.

Cirencester resident Mrs Hart, a freelance swimming instructor, explained that the animal had the same posture as a cat and strode across the land before running off towards the trees.

12. A man from Dursley also reported what he believed to be a pair of big cats hunting on the outskirts of the town in 2015.

The man was cycling to work in a morning roughly a month ago when he witnessed the pair apparently hunting a domestic cat.

He reported the sighting to Gloucestershire-based big cat expert Mr Tunbridge who said that he receives reports of sightings about once a fortnight.

“I’ve been following big cats for years,” he said. “They tend to be more commonly sighted the closer to winter it gets as they come out of wooded areas into the more urban areas in search of food.

“This man told his colleagues what he saw but they ridiculed him for it. The problem is that unless you see a big cat for yourself it’s hard to believe that they’re out there.”

Do you believe big cats are roaming free in Gloucestershire?

Let us know by voting in our poll, here