MYSTERY ‘Beast of the Quantocks’, claimed to be on the prowl near the village of Crowcombe, was being investigated by wildlife experts this week.
Last Saturday, a local family, who asked not to be named, took pictures on their phone of what they described as a “big black animal” seen near the Quantock Hills beautyspot of Crowcombe Park Gate.
The previous weekend, Cannington builder Rick Parsons claimed to have caught a glimpse of “something far bigger than an ordinary cat” while walking in woods in nearby Crowcombe Combe.
“It was getting dark and the animal was some distance away but I have never seen anything like it in all the years I have been walking in the Quantocks,” he said.
“It had gone before I could use my binoculars.”
“I was intrigued by what I saw and have kept an open mind about what it might be.”
The 32-year-old mother and her daughter, aged 14, were walking near Crowcombe Park Gate last Saturday when they saw what they claimed was “a black panther-type animal skulking through the long grass”.
The mother said: “It looked like it was hiding. I could see something big and shining and took a photograph on my phone. I only saw it properly when I looked at the picture at home.
“I think it was a big cat – a panther-type thing. All my family agreed when I showed them the photo.”
She added that the creature had a shiny black coat, a distinctive wide head and a long tail.
The photograph has been sent to BeastWatch UK, an online organisation which collates reports of exotic wildlife, whose spokesman said: “Some of our members believe the creature could be a panther or jaguar.
“It certainly appears to have a characteristic jaguar/panther shape. We would like to receive information on any further sightings.”
Chris Edwards, manager of the Quantock Hills AONB Service, which controls the 38 square miles of heath and woodland, said none of his staff and volunteers had seen anything unusual but would be keeping a special lookout.