Is ‘Coombe Cougar’ photo evidence of ghost cats?
The “Coombe Cougar”, circled in red.
5th May 2021
By Natasha Swift
They are known as the “ghost cat” because they are so rarely seen – but one eagle-eyed resident believes a lynx was spotted running through Clay Country in broad daylight.
The big cat – dubbed the “Coombe Cougar” – was spotted on the loose in a field in the village last month.
A photo of the animal was posted on the Coombe - St Austell Facebook page with the description: “Saw what looked like a large cat (could be a fox though) in the field. Was zoomed in all the way so image not too clear. Any feline/fox experts out there?”
Some claim the photo is fake, but others are convinced it is a lynx.
Rhoda Watkins, an expert big cat tracker, has been investigating the sighting and said the area was a “hot spot” for big cats.
Rhoda said: “We’ve had a chat with a couple of other people in the village and the farmer who rents the field and this is not the only sighting of a big cat in the area.
“I think you’re a bit of a hot spot for them.
“We are going to pop a couple of camera traps up so if anyone sees them just leave them in place.
“We have permission.”
“You don’t need to worry though, there’s plenty of deer, pheasant etc for any cats to eat and they are usually very shy and stay away from people. There’s no danger.
“We found some scat in the area which is going off for DNA testing as it’s definitely not fox / badger / dog / domestic cat.”
This is the latest report of a big cat stalking the area.
Former Restormel and Cornwall County councillor Joan Vincent MBE said she had spotted similar animals roaming around St Austell over the past two decades.
In 1995 at Starric Moor, near Stenalees, members of Cornwall County Council’s planning committee, including Mrs Vincent, who was chair, saw a large, dark brown cat drinking from a pool.
In 2007 the Voice revealed big cats had been spotted in the clay districts.
Former Cornwall councillor for St Blazey, Roy Taylor, made world headlines in 1999 when his own home video footage of a big cat in Stenalees was broadcast.
There have been several sightings of big cats over the past few decades with three quarry workers spotting two big cats walking across the bottom of the disused Goon Barrow China Clay Pit in Roche in August 1995.
Later that same year a photo emerged of two cats - one tawny and one darker brown - which were taken through binoculars near St Austell.