Farmers have been asked to be alert for big cats that have been seen roaming the British countryside, killing sheep and alarming the public.
Big cats like this puma are believed to be getting closer to towns
The National Farmers' Union appealed for its members to be the "eyes and ears" of the countryside.
"There is anecdotal evidence among farmers and society at large that there are big cats roaming wild in our countryside," NFU deputy president Tim Bennett said.
The cats are thought to have escaped from private zoos or been abandoned as pets.
Robin Goodbeer, of the British Big Cats Society, founded
three years ago to log sightings, said the number of big cat
animal kills and sightings was growing steadily.
"They are of pumas, leopards and jaguars," he said,
adding that there had been more than 1,000 sightings in 2002 and
more this year.
"There are even reports of young animals, suggesting they
"There have been no attacks on humans reported
here, but they are getting closer to the edges of towns and
cities," he added.
Two years ago, a wild Eurasian lynx was found wandering
around Cricklewood, in north-west London.
It was captured and now lives in London Zoo, where it goes by the name Lara.