There are pumas in the UK

Nessie is out, Big Cats are in. The British have found a replacement for the Loch Ness monster that has disappeared without a trace: enigmatic big cats.

Allegedly they roam the Scottish Highlands as well as the forests of Central England or the moorlands of Devon in the south.

"The search for pumas and other big cats," reported the BBC, "is becoming more and more popular".

The island kingdom cannot come up with a bear named Bruno, as he was shot in Bavaria in 2006. But there are mysterious big cat sightings. Big cat clubs are popular, books with titles like "Monster Hunter" are in demand.

There are even national conferences for the British Big Cat Seekers. The next one is currently being prepared for the end of March in the western English city of Kingston upon Hull.

From the meeting, fans expect news about mysterious beings on the list of the "Top Ten Cats". At the top is the "Beast from Bodmin Moor". In the holiday region of Cornwall, of all places, this "leopard-like" predator has been tearing cows and sheep for years and then hiding for a long time.

The stories about the "Lion of Dartmoor" are also popular, although nothing more has been seen of him than the imprint of a 15 centimeter long paw. The "Surrey Puma" is more of a phantom than a tangible grandfather. It is said to have been terrifying walkers southwest of London since the early 1960s.

Attacks on people have so far rarely been reported. However, there have been a couple of exciting cases.

In the summer of 2000, for example, a boy was allegedly jumped at by a beast in the Welsh village of Trellech. The eleven-year-old only just got away with his life, according to reports on the "Terror Tiger of Trellech".

The British Big Cats Society (BBCS) has counted around 2500 eyewitness reports since 2004. And Mark Fraser, founder of the competition group "Big Cats in Britain" (BCIB), says: "Every day people call us who think they have seen big cats."

All nonsense, according to the Ministry of Environment and Rural Affairs in London. Again and again, pumas or lynxes turned out to be foxes after being shot.

"We don't think big cats are wild in Britain." That can't stop the enthusiasts. “Where did you come to us from?” Is one of the most important questions of the upcoming Big Cat conference.

One of the simpler theories is that they were simply abandoned. British private individuals currently keep twelve lions, 14 tigers and 50 leopards as pets - with government permission.

There is also an unknown number of "black owners". They are suspected of letting their dangerous darlings out to hunt every now and then.

Until a loophole in the law was closed in 1981, it was formally legally legal to leave your house panther in the forest.

Quite a few big cat fans have a different theory: The Big Cats are said to be descended from predators that the Romans once brought with them for their circus performances.

A few even believe that the "Terror Tiger of Trellech" and other beasts are descendants of big cats that somehow survived the Ice Age.

After all, the rule of thumb of the BBCS in the event of an encounter with a real big cat is undisputed: "Do not approach, do not threaten, but report!"