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Big cat spotted near Norwich

PUBLISHED: 12:00 01 June 2010 | UPDATED: 16:58 01 July 2010

A big cat has been spotted in Norfolk.

A big cat has been spotted in Norfolk.

David Bale

Norfolk's reputation for being a hot spot for big cat sightings has been reinforced after a large animal was spotted near Norwich by a motorist.

Norfolk's reputation for being a hot spot for big cat sightings has been reinforced after a large animal was spotted near Norwich by a motorist.

Phil Grimes was driving eastbound on the single carriageway A47 from Norwich when he saw the animal for about 15 seconds in a field about 200 yards away off the road near North Burlingham.

He said the animal had a heavy, thick tail that was tucked close to its rump, so he could not see the end of it, as it was hidden in the grass.

The sighting comes amid claims that the true number of big cats prowling the country is being covered up, and is more evidence that our region could be a hot spot for big cats, after several were spotted across Norfolk last year.

Mr Grimes, 51, an agency driver from Thurton, said: “I have never seen anything like this before.

“It was definitely not a domestic cat or dog, and at the risk of sounding cranky, it looked just like a black leopard.

“The traffic was very slow and the animal immediately caught my attention in a field.

“It walked slowly forward, paused, and walked forward again, just like a cat stalking.

“It was jet black overall, and walked with its head down and shoulders raised. It was about the size of a German Shepherd in height, but with a longer, distinctly cat-like body.

“I have a completely open mind and I wonder if anyone else saw it?”

Mr Grimes reported the sighting to the research group, Big Cats in Britain, which is looking into the mystery of big cats in the countryside.

The group's founder Mark Fraser said: “We are wondering if there have been any more recent sightings.”

Meanwhile, a wildlife expert claimed today that the existence of big cats prowling Britain was being covered up.

Mark Fletcher claims there are 1,000 sightings a year, but officials are scared there will be panic and blame the sightings on domestic cats, superstition or mistakes.

He added that if the true numbers were revealed the authorities would also have to spend thousands of pounds culling the beasts.

Mr Grimes spotted the animal at about 4.30pm on Friday, May 28. He estimated it was 18 to 24 inches in height at the shoulder and 3 to 4ft long from head to rump.

If you have seen a big black cat in Norwich, let us know. Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.

For more information about the phenomenon visit bigcatsinbritain@btinternet.com.

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