WILDLIFE experts say big cats could be prowling around in the wilds of the Worcestershire countryside - though no conclusive evidence has yet been found.

One walker said he had seen both a panther and a lynx on the Worcestershire border with Gloucestershire as rumours grow of large predators stalking the wilder parts of the county. 

As previously reported, Martin Burford, originally from Worcester, says he was walking with his dog on the Worcestershire and Gloucestershire border last month when he spotted a lynx among the grass.

The 53-year-old also shared a video showing what he said was a panther running through a field and a lamb which was partially devoured which he claimed was evidence of a kill by the apex predator.

Cornwall has the Beast of Bodmin Moor, described as a black panther-like big cat with yellow eyes, prowling the eerie moorlands. Now recent sightings of a similar creature in Worcestershire have left some asking if the county has its own 'beast'.

WILD: A 'lynx' spotted on the Worcestershire border with Gloucestershire WILD: A 'lynx' spotted on the Worcestershire border with Gloucestershire (Image: Martin Burford)

However, some critics remain sceptical and argue we need much more than photos and videos from a distance to prove that there are real big cats living wild in Worcestershire.

Nevertheless, there remains a strong interest in the possibility of feral big cats roaming through the British countryside, including locally with a Facebook group with 480 members called Evesham and Villages Big Cat Group which regularly shares details of reports and sightings. 

A spokesperson for the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust did not rule out the possibility of a big cat living wild but argued that more conclusive proof needed to be found.

A spokesperson said: "It’s always possible that there is a big cat roaming through Worcestershire’s countryside but there hasn’t yet been any conclusive evidence – whether that be a pawprint or a photograph - to prove this."

The existence of such cats has become part of British folklore and urban legend with reported sightings of non-native, feral cats described as "panthers", "pumas" or "black cats".

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There have been rare isolated incidents of recovered individual animals, often medium-sized species such as the Eurasian lynx, though in one 1980 case, a puma was captured alive in Scotland.

These are believed to have been escaped or released exotic pets that had been held illegally, possibly released after the animals became too difficult to manage or after the introduction of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.

However, the existence of a population of "true big cats" in Britain, particularly a breeding population, has been rejected by experts and the British government owing to a lack of convincing evidence for the presence of these animals.

An NFU spokesman said: “While there are reports sporadically across the country, farmers in Worcestershire and Gloucestershire still await any firm evidence but will always keep an open mind.

“Anyone with concerns should speak to the appropriate authorities including Defra.

“The issue for many farm businesses in relation to livestock worrying is as a result of dog attacks on sheep and lambs.

“Sadly livestock worrying does continue to be a major issue for many farmers in and around Worcestershire and the wider country and it has both an emotional and financial impact on farming families and their businesses.

“We would urge people to keep their dogs on a lead around livestock when they are out enjoying the countryside and to follow the Countryside Code.”