Sunday, November 14, 1999 Published at 12:27 GMT
Beast of Bodmin evades RAF cameras
The big cat mystery is still unsolved
Hi-tech efforts to capture the legendary Beast of Bodmin on film have failed because of bad weather on the Cornish moor.
RAF reserve volunteers spent Saturday night camped in ditches and under hedges with the latest military night-vision equipment.
But all attempts by members of 2625 County of Cornwall Squadron to spot a big cat were scuppered by low cloud and mist.
However, Squadron Leader Andrew McCombe told BBC News Online that several intruder detection devices were triggered during the night.
"So something was moving along the tracks," he said, "but because of the cloud we could not get a good look.
The would be beast-baggers are volunteers in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, the RAF's equivalent of the Territorial Army.
Four members of the 2625 County of Cornwall squadron have served in Kosovo and eight have been on active duty in Kuwait.
The skills and equipment used in the night time operation in Cornwall are the same as those used when staffing observation posts on the edges of RAF airfields.
The existence of big cats on Bodmin Moor has never been proven beyond doubt, although many Cornish farmers maintain they have lost sheep to large, savage animals.
In August 1998 a 20-second video was released and was declared by some wild cat experts to be the best evidence yet that big cats roam Bodmin Moor.
There have been about 60 big cat sightings recorded in the area since 1983 but in 1995 a government report concluded there was no evidence that big cats existed on the moor.