New evidence of mysterious panther

Clawed into a tree trunk, these fearsome-looking scratch marks could be evidence of the latest sighting of a mysterious black panther thought to be prowling Norfolk.

Clawed into a tree trunk, these fearsome-looking scratch marks could be evidence of the latest sighting of a mysterious black panther thought to be prowling Norfolk.

Shaun Baxter, a father of one, said he spotted the big cat gouging out the markings while he was shooting rabbits in a field just off Bacton Road between North Walsham and Edingthorpe on Sunday afternoon.

He said: 'I was standing next to a tree in my camouflage gear and about 70 yards away was a big black panther-like cat.

'It was scratching on a tree, like a normal household cat would do at its scratching post.'

Mr Baxter, a house husband who lives in Bowthorpe, near Norwich, said the scratches were too high off the ground and deep to be made by a domestic cat or dog, and the creature he saw was easily bigger than a husky dog.

After the cat pounced off into thicker trees nearby, Mr Baxter, 42, waited 20 minutes while he plucked up the courage to have a look.

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He said: 'My heart was thumping. I couldn't believe the marks on the trees.'

This is the latest in a spate of sightings across the county of a black panther. So far this year the mysterious creature has been spotted in Hevingham, North Elmham and Aylmerton, as well as a sighting in Hellesdon, north of Norwich.