Expert claims animal likely to be exotic breed
AN experienced photographer claims to have spotted a "big cat" near Alves.
Gazette snapper Eric Cormack was out on a shoot near Alves Old Parish Church with a colleague on work experience when he spotted something dart across his vision in his viewfinder.
He said: "It bounded across the field around 300 yards away - it's tail was really long and moved differently to a domestic cat. It swallowed up the ground really quickly with its long legs."
Eric immediately changed from a wide-angle lens to a zoom but the animal was only in view for 30 seconds.
He said: "It's a pity I didn't have a stronger lens but you can see the scale of the animal against the fence behind it. I was really excited as I'd hoped to get a shot of a local big cat for years.
"It looked as big as a Labrador with a longer tail. Thankfully it headed into the long grass not far from houses at the back of the field - if it had been charging towards us we'd have taken refuge in the car!"
Eric has taken photographs for newspapers for 40 year but has never seen anything like it.
"There was a mixed reaction in the office when I told my colleagues," he said. "We got a bit of ribbing but we both saw it clear as day!"
Emma Adams (16) was on work experience from Elgin High School when she got a glimpse of the beast.
She said: " It was unusually large. You would be able to see a dog from that distance but not a domestic-sized cat. If we were closer I would've been scared!"
The Scottish Big Cat Trust claims Moray is the home of the Kellas Cat, thought to be a cross between wildcats and feral cats.
A flurry of sightings in the 1980's led several local politicians to question whether the government should be enquiring into Moray's big cat phenonemon.
In 1995, a turkey farmer in Alves claimed to have shot a black panther which raided his bird pens. It is not known if this was verified.
The Gazette asked The Big Cat Society to examine Eric's pictures.
A spokesman said: "The animal was likely to have been a domestic cat of an exotic breed. Bengal Leopards and Savannahs are known to be allowed to roam outside."