The fence was the site of a brutal sheep attack, and a strand of black hair was found tangled on it. The hair was sent to a forensic laboratory for DNA analysis, and the results were astonishing: a 99 percent match to a big cat species, most likely a black leopard.
This is the ‘definitive proof’ that film-makers from Dragonfly Films were looking for. They have been working on a documentary called Panthera Britannia Declassified, which explores the phenomenon of big cat sightings in Britain.
They also captured video footage of a large black animal roaming near the farm where the hair was found.
Matthew Everett, from Dragonfly Films, said: “This is a breakthrough discovery that confirms what many people have been reporting for decades: there are black leopards and other big cats living in Britain.
“It took us five years to find this evidence and document its journey from collection to analysis.
“We are grateful to the local people, farmers and landowners who have helped us with our research. They have witnessed some unusual predatory activity and have shared their stories with us.
“We hope that our documentary will shed some light on these elusive creatures and their possible origins and impacts on the British countryside.”
Countryside locals have reported sightings of what appear to be black leopards for decades.
Sightings of such creatures have produced a number of local legends in parts of England, such as the famous ‘Beast of Bodmin Moor’ which gained notoriety after a spate of incidents in 1978.