The Beast of Blue Bell Hill Has Returned

The fabled Beast of Blue Bell Hill has reportedly been spotted at its old stomping ground - and this time it has friends.

Enthusiast Neil Arnold said a black leopard - also known as a panther - has been seen in Medway and Maidstone in the past few weeks, and the man behind Kent Big Cat Research claims exotic animals just like this have been at large in Kent for centuries.

Recent developments suggest big cats such as pumas, lynxes and black leopards may well be roaming the Kent countryside.

The latest sighting took place, at 9.40am on Saturday, February 23, at Rochester Cemetery on the Maidstone Road, by a man walking home.

Mr Arnold, said: "He glanced up into the cemetery and was astonished to see the animal. The cat was moving between the headstones.

"It was black in colour with a very long tail which touched the ground."

Since then, a husband and wife claim to have spotted the same kind of animal late at night in Eastcourt Lane, Gillingham. On one occasion the husband saw the cat leap over a seven foot fence.

The woman also reported seeing another huge cat a few nights later – but this time it was a fawny-brown colour. Mr Arnold said it could have been a puma.

The sightings come less than a fortnight after a fisherman allegedly saw a dark-grey "cat-like" animal while he was sitting beside a lake in Snodland earlier this month. According to Mr Arnold this is the second sighting of what he says could be a Jaguarundi in the area - a similar creature was seen near the lake last month.

The wild cat enthusiast says these are some of many sightings from the area, including backgardens near Rochester Castle, the Alexandra Hospital, Walderslade, and parts of rural Maidstone.

“Based on the sighting I have recorded, I think there are anything between three and seven panthers in this area," said Mr Arnold. "And they have been here for hundreds of years.”

The big cats that supposedly roam England’s countryside are thought to be descended from exotic pets released by royalty and travelling zoos several hundred years ago or linked to animals kept as pets in the 1960s and 1970s and released in the advent of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.

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