Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Big Cats Loose in Britain - Just Published

The Center for Fortean Zoology has just published a new book, Big Cats Loose in Britain from author Marcus Matthews.

Here's the details, direct from CFZ Director Jon Downes:

Big Cats Loose in Britain, has a twin-track theme. The author looks at the body of anecdotal evidence: sightings, livestock kills, pawprints and photographs, and seeks to determine underlying commonalities and threads of evidence.

These two strands are repeatedly woven together into a highly readable, yet scientifically compelling overview of the big cat phenomenon in Britain. The sightings reports are meticulously researched, with particular reference to the 70s and 80s; decades in which legislation changes - in particular, the Dangerous Wild Animals Act - played a significant part in events.

However, this book provides the best collection ever, of big cat sightings in the UK from historical times up to about 1990. What is surely unique about this book is the depth and breadth of the investigation - and discussion - of the evidence.

Unlike many authors, who merely cut-and-paste from the Internet or rehash stories that are oft-reported elsewhere, the author draws heavily on personal contact with witnesses, drawing out detail that might well have been otherwise overlooked.

Gestation can be a lengthy process. The foundations of this book were written between 1987 and 1990, and the overall project clearly is a labour of love and, indeed, has already acquired a semi-legendary reputation.

The enthusiasm of the author shines through on every page. Much of the source material is from a time before many of the animosities, which have so plagued British big cat research in recent years, came to a head - a time when the CFZ Permanent Directorate were much younger than we are now, and did what we did purely for fun.

They were good days, and reading Marcus' book helped us relive them.

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