Derbyshire's Black Panther

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Derbyshire Constabulary responded positively to a Freedom of Information request in 2013 revealing that they had received over two dozen reported sightings of cats - almost all described as 'black' - since 2008.

While a surprising number of reports was revealed by this request, it is perhaps notable that the police seemingly made little effort to follow-up these reports. Tellingly, many of the reports are simple, verbatim notes with very little detail either given or actively sought. In some ways this is an interesting reflection of the disappointing lack of detail in the Ministry of Defense's 'X-Files' on UFO reports that were released in 2010. 

Nonetheless, the details of the sightings show that they are surprisingly common in a part of the world that is not exactly famous for such things - Derbyshire's big cat lacks even the dignity of a nickname - despite having left evidence at least as compelling as its more illustrious cousins elsewhere.

Another thing to note is that these sightings are primarily reported to the police. Whether or not they represent genuine sightings of an actual big cat, they obviously generated sufficient concern on the part of the witnesses to pick up the phone or to write to the police. One wonders how many similar incidents were/are simply never reported either for fear of ridicule or just because of the (probably correct) suspicion that police would see such reports as a waste of police time.

Another minor note is that at least one report mentions recent local media coverage, suggesting that media coverage itself generates reports. To the sceptical this would suggest that people's senses are tricked into misinterpreting ordinary animals by heightened awareness triggered by the media. Others would suggest that the media reports themselves stem from genuine encounters. In some way, then, one can view this as very much a 'chicken and egg' situation.

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Author: Ian Freud   |  Last updated: 2nd January 2015 | © Weird Island 2010-2017
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