Wednesday, January 3, 2007


(Date unknown) 1970 Ashdown Forest, SUSSEX

A tan-coloured animal but with black stripes attacked a dog in the Ashdown Forest area of Sussex.

July 23rd 1971 Ashdown Forest, SUSSEX

The Times reported on this day that:
“…police were hunting a wild animal in the Ashdown Forest area of Sussex, which attacked a dog belonging to a farmer on the forest’s edge. The report continues: People who have seen the animal in the forest, including two policemen, describe it as ‘like a Puma’, black and tan coloured with streaks of yellow, and pointed ears!!”
Fortean Times magazine wrote to the farmer, Mr. Alistair Whitley, of Outback Farm, Mutley, on the south side of the forest, whose eye opening reply came six months later. The farmer claimed the animal prowled the farm from Spring to Autumn of 1971. His letter stated:
“Our first signs were over-large ‘dog’ paw-prints on the woodland paths, and portions of half-eaten wild rabbits in the cattle drinking troughs in the fields. Our first clear sighting was when it seized our little pet dog (a Tibetan spaniel, about 10lbs in weight) at a distance of about twelve feet. I managed o throw a shovel and hit it causing it to drop the dog and make off. Subsequent and many sightings could be condensed thus; very heavy strong dog with fierce eyes and round pricked ears, yellowish in colour and splotched with darker marks. It spent much time lying in whatever field our sheep flock was in, which frightened us, but in fact it never attacked them. (Mind you, it was not with us at lambing – March – or it might have been a different story. It didn’t arrive until early May). It appeared to ‘camouflage’ itself with the sheep to catch rabbits. It urinated in all the water troughs, and was excited by our little dogs – (we kept them shut in the garden after it came into the farmyard to catch one).
We were very lucky in being helped by Dr. John Lisgoe, a marine biologist who lived locally, and a Professor at Sussex University who helped us collect paw-prints both in plaster casts and digging up the actual earth, which he took to the Curator of the British Natural History Museum who positively identified the ‘beast’ as an African Spotted Hyena, from hairs and prints. We were warned that it was very formidable as an animal which couldn’t be doubted if you’d met it as closely as we had. I had a good shot at it in late October as it stood by the wood-side, but whether I killed it or just terrified it away I cannot say. It crawled into the dense undergrowth and we didn’t dare follow it in case it was wounded.
Neither our family nor neighbours have seen or heard it since”.

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