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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 October, 2003, 16:51 GMT
Woman reports 'beast' sighting
A Lynx
The cat is thought to be a lynx with black colouring
An Essex woman has described what she claims is a sighting of the mysterious "Beast of Ongar".

Kay Hayden, the clerk of the local parish council, told BBC Essex she was shocked when a large black cat appeared in a field in Stanford Rivers near Ongar off the A113.

Ms Hayden said: "All I can say is it was a great big leopard size. It was a muscular, completely black, strong-looking animal, much, much larger than a dog."

She said she was quite convinced the animal was the same "beast" spotted years ago by others in the area.

The secretive animal seen near Ongar was identified as possibly being a shy European lynx by experts on BBC1 wildlife series X-Creatures, in 1998.

A police officer at the Ongar station said there have not been any reports of wild animals of this type in the local area for years.

Big cat experts have estimated there may be more than 100 wild cats - mainly leopards and pumas - roaming the British countryside, a claim that has been disputed by the government.


SEE ALSO:
Pony injured by 'big cat'
28 Aug 03  |  Devon
Missing lynx recaptured
13 Dec 02  |  Scotland
More big cats recorded
28 Jan 02  |  England
Big cats prowl British countryside
28 Jan 00  |  UK News
'We'll prove big cats roam UK'
19 Jul 03  |  Devon


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