Friday, May 22, 2009

Police hunt weirdness with Helicopters

Police Helicopters are busy in Wales and the marches. While one was used to hunt the Ammanford Wolfman recently and of course there was the massive Cardiff UFO - helicopter chase last year. The latest report from the Marcher county of Gloucestershire is that the Police are using them to hunt a "Lion".

Clearly I should have tried to get a police helicopter to hunt the Swansea Crocodile last year :)

Link courtsey of the CFZ blog where Tim Mathews notes the similarities between Big Cat hunts and Ufology. Which I guess is true enough regarding enthusiasts though the authorities too seem to take Big Cat reports far more seriously than they do UFOs nowadays.

TIM MATTHEWS: Are big cat hunters the new UFOlogists?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Big Cats in Wales - Academics support

Another report on Welsh big cats. It is good to see that academic examination of Big cats is still ongoing in Wales and Swansea University is at the forefront. This is a more than usually interesting article on Big Cats.


Daily Star - ‎May 16, 2009‎
By Rick Lyons
BIG cats are on the prowl in Britain – and today we reveal West Wales is their favourite hunting ground.

Shocking figures leaked to us show sleepy Aberystwyth has seen more attacks by the beasts than anywhere else.

Black panthers, pumas and lynx are all thought to be roaming free – and breeding – in remote rural locations.

And 34 of 39 suspected big cat kills probed by the Government in the last ten years were in the Aberystwyth area.

Just last month the Veterinary Laboratories Agency – responsible for post-mortems on big cat kills – said a calf attacked there in March had its ribs splintered by a large mammal.

Since 1998 the agency has also studied the carcasses of 15 lambs, 19 sheep, a dog and a fox – all thought to have fallen prey to foreign big cats.

Most sightings in Wales are attributed to panthers, which are capable of killing animals as big as a horse.

Experts think they were released in the 1970s and have now formed breeding populations in sparsely populated areas like rural Wales.

Dr Dan Forman, a carnivore biologist from Swansea University, said he had “relatively conclusive”
evidence big cats were out there.

And he said they were being helped by the climate and rugged terrain round Aberystwyth.

Dan told us: “It’s milder – you don’t get hard frost.

“There’s also a lot of food around here and a lot of caves which are in remote locations near abandoned copper mines, gold mines and things like that. They are fantastic refuges for these animals.

“There are feral populations of racoons in the United Kingdom, there are feral populations of
wallabies. People don’t believe it but it’s true.

“There’s no reason why other predators couldn’t exist in an environment where there’s lots of food, lots of cover and where people don’t normally go – like West Wales.”

The introduction of the 1976 Dangerous Wild Animals Act is being blamed for the rise of the big cats.

It required the owners of exotic cats to have licences – prompting many to dump their pets.

It is now thought they are all over the United Kingdom and may even have inter-bred, creating new species.

Numbers are unknown but there are an average of between three and four sightings every day.

The National Farmers Union of Wales admits big cats are “a serious issue” for its members, and Danny Bamping, of the British Big Cat Society, said: “People need to realise that these cats are out there.

“They’re real and they are not in the same category as the Loch Ness Monster.”

While Swansea Uni’s Dan Forman added: “Three hundred years from now we might have pumas walking around the countryside and people simply accepting it.

“These animals integrate themselves into our animal assemblage and they become part of it.”

So the cats are living in abandoned mines no wonder there are so many in Wales.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Wolfman - The Origin

I have located earlier reports on the "Wolfman" from the South Wales Guardian which are more down to earth than later reports.

Police’s ‘Wolfman’ vigilante warning 7:00am Wednesday 18 March 2009

Guardian Opinion
6:30am Wednesday 18 March 2009
Police vow on ‘Wolfman’
6:50am Wednesday 25 March 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wolfman - media hype?

It seems much of the Wolfman story is the result of media exaggeration. When I am back in Wales properly I will have to investigate I think. One aspect of the case which is intriguing is the use of a Police helicopter... it seems like a big waste of resources for the actual basis of what the case involved.

Police dismiss 'wolfman hunted' reports

WalesOnline - ‎Apr 30, 2009‎

Police dismissed reports today that they were hunting a “wolfman” vagrant over a mini-crimewave as just another “shaggy dog story.”

Sightings of a wildman living rough in woodland near Ammanford, were no more than “rumour”, an officer said. Police knowledge of the apparently elusive individual does not even extend to confirmation that he has a beard.

Initial reports of the “wolfman” first appeared in the Ammanford-based South Wales Guardian weekly newspaper last month.

It pinpointed woodland near the hamlet of Pantyffynnon as the area where a vagrant, dubbed the “wolfman” by local children, was living rough.

Residents were also reported as holding him responsible for a spate of doorstep milk disappearances and thefts from cars. The paper has carried several interviews with local officer Sergeant Charles Gabe who confirmed the police did want to speak to him.

“We think he catches rabbits and eats berries or whatever else he can get his hands on,” he told the newspaper.

He also said the Dyfed Powys Police helicopter, using heat-seeking equipment, had been used to locate him without success on one occasion.

He told the newspaper: “But we’re not talking a one-man crimewave here. While I don’t wish to minimise what’s been happening there are more serious things happening in and around Ammanford.”

That viewpoint was echoed today by a colleague after the story of a “wolfman” hunt was picked up by at least one national newspaper.

“There is no on-going police operation to search for someone that local children have apparently dubbed the ’wolfman,”’ an Ammanford officer said today.

“We have had a couple of incidents, going back 12 months, where someone’s fridge freezer was opened and food taken out. Whether it was this person or kids has never been proven. If he is ever found he will be spoken with in connection with this incident but there is certainly no crime wave.”

He added: “There is a rumour of a tramp or vagrant living somewhere in the community, and a den he apparently lived in has been found with some remains of food.

“Situations like this with people living on the periphery of a community do occur from time to time.

“He may or may not have a beard but as for being a wolfman, that’s just a shaggy dog story.


Wolfman in Ammanford

A few people have sent me links on this rumour

Local beat Sergeant Charles Gabe said the wolfman has been living in the wild between the villages of Pantyffynnon and Penybanc for up for FOUR years — but only turned to crime in the last couple.

He said he appeared to live largely off the land in makeshift hides and added: "He appears to be quite self-sufficient. He is very rarely seen.

The best account is from the bastion of weirdness:

The Telegraph also weighs in:
'Wolfman' survives wild in woods for two years

Wolfman behind mini crimewave who lives on rabbits and berries in woods

Daily Mail - ‎Apr 29, 2009‎

It adds the info that he lives semi- underground.

"Some locals believe 'The Wolfman' - said to be in his 30s and to look 'dishevelled' - also hides in holes in the ground."

'The Wolfman' lives in the woodland on an area of reclaimed coal slagheaps known locally as 'The Tips'.

It seems to me what we have here is a local hermit or tramp transformed by media magic into the Lon Chaney jnr style Wolfman. Of course film buffs will remember that the original 1941 Universal Wolfman seen below was Welsh, specifically the American hero named Talbot returns to his roots in Cardiff where he encounters a werewolf, a gypsy Werewolf to be precise.
The Wolf Man (1941 film)
Sadly the upcoming remake is no longer set in Wales though it does feature Anthony Hopkins.

The Wolfman aspect of the story is presuambly just local folklore what is more interesting though is the comparison to old tales of Celtic hermits and the Wildman of medieval times. The Amman valley area is rather interesting so I think a look round at some point would be good though I don't think I need bother with silver bullets.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gwiber - Flying Vipers

Oll Lewsis from the CFZ is a font of information on Welsh cryptozoology. He did an excellent blog post a while back on one of the weirdest of all Welsh cryptids the Gwiber, specifically a sub species the flying snakes or dragonets of South Glamorgan. Gwibers are reported all over Wales in folklore but it was in Penllyn they are reported more recently in Marie Trevelyn's ‘Folklore and Folkstories of Wales’ from 1909:

“The woods around Penllyne Castle, Glamorgan, had the reputation of being frequented by winged serpents, and these were the terror of old and young alike. An aged inhabitant of Penllyne, who died a few years ago, said that in his boyhood the winged serpents were described as very beautiful. They were coiled when in repose, and "looked as though they were covered with jewels of all sorts. Some of them had crests sparkling with all the colours of the rainbow." When disturbed, they glided swiftly, "sparkling all over," to their hiding places. When angry, they "flew over people's heads, with outspread wings bright and sometimes with eyes, too, like the feathers in a peacock's tail." He said it was "no old story," invented to "frighten children," but a real fact. His father and uncles had killed some of them, for they were "as bad as foxes for poultry." This old man attributed the extinction of winged serpents to the fact that they were "terrors in the farmyards and coverts.”

I once went for a look round the area but found no sign of the elusive beasts. The description if them sounded very much like the fire lizards in Anne Macffrey's Dragon rider books I have always thought.

Oll goes into some depth on the mystery in his post and he did attempt some interviews. His conclusion the creatures as reported are unlikely to exist.

OLL LEWIS: Penllyn Is In My Ears And In My Eyes