Wednesday, January 3, 2007


In 1998 local press such as Kent Today were caught in a flap over a mysterious predator lurking in the woods around Maidstone. The strangeness fitted perfectly into the framework of a location that, for many, many years has been known for its oddness. The most famous bout of weirdness connected to the hill, was, and still is, the so-called 'hitchhiker' of the area, which many people tie in to the famous crash which occurred there in 1965 ( ), although in-depth research by Sean Tudor proved beyond doubt that there is more to the hill, and the phantom cases than meets the eye, and that the answers may indeed lie hidden in the lay of the land.

The so-called 'beast' of Blue Bell Hill was never tied to the area, and sightings of such creatures were reported from the surrounding areas such as Boxley and Burham several centuries before, but in Kent during the late '90s, the press were very slow to jump on the 'big cat' bandwagon that had already rolled through Surrey in the '60s, Exmoor in the 1980s, and Bodmin in the early '90s. However, a black leopard was sighted in the area around the late '90s, and still is as of writing, and no doubt will be in many years to come, because what reporters do not understand is that these animals are in abundance, they are not the local sheep-killing werewolves they want them to be, but now very much British 'big cats', animals spawned from generations long ago released into the wilds. The Romans imported thousands of cats such as puma and leopard during their invasions, and these cats were used to fight slaves. During the 1700s and 1800s many travelling menageries could be blamed for cats escaping into the wilds, as some of these moving exhibitions were quite possibly incapable of housing such animals. And then, in the 1960s it was extremely fashionable to see people walking down the street with a black leopard or a puma, and many were kept in large houses, or basements, but during 1976 when the Dangerous Wild Animals Act was introduced, many owners could not afford the license fees and so released their 'pets' into the wilds, hence the populations of today, which are thriving.

Reports of exotic cats are common throughout Britain, as well as in Australia, the U.S.A. and to lesser extent countries such as Italy and France. The main species which roam the U.K. are the black leopard ('panther' - as many people call them, although in the U.S.A. the 'panther' is a term which applies to the Cougar). The black leopard (native to Africa and Asia) is the same as the normal leopard except it has a dark pigment to the coat, although they are very dark brown, and should one see such an animal up close, the rosette pattern under the coat will be visible. Such animals were very popular pets. Contrary to popular opinion, these animals can exist quite easily int he English countryside, cover is sufficient for an animal so elusive and prey will range from deer, to rabbit, to fox, lambs, pheasants, pigeons, rats, domestic cats and squirrels. The puma (Cougar, Mountain Lion), native to the U.S. and Canada, is roughly the same size as the leopard but not officially a 'big cat' as it cannot roar, but instead is the largest of the Lesser Cats and is known for its piercing scream. These cats are extremely shy, have a fawn-dark tan coat and a long tail. During the '60s flap in Surrey, a majority of witnesses seeing such an animal believed they'd seen a lioness, however, reports of lions and tigers in the U.K. are pretty much untrue and unlikely unless one such cat escapes from a zoo.

Smaller cats to roam the U.K. are the Lynx, known for its tufted ears and bobbed tail, which allegedly died out here some 4,000 years ago, and the Jungle Cat (Swamp Cat), which is able to breed with the domestic cat. Other cats are described in handfuls of other sightings but reports of Caracal, Leopard Cat, Clouded Leopard, and Golden Cat are few and far between. As for the 'beast' of Blue Bell Hill, well, as long as the haunted area attracts investigators and tourists who aren't really knowledgeable, this prowling phantom will always exist, but the truth is far stranger than the fiction....

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