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Thursday, 24 August 2017

Red Paper: Felids British 'Big' Cats

In 2010 I published Red Paper: Canids looking at the history of foxes and other canids in the UK.  I even managed (because I actually do research) to find some previously thought lost photos.  I knew an old naturalist/biologist who had read every and any book on UK wildlife he could (I saw his library!) over a period of 70 years.  When he read my book he described it as "Explosive.  You will not get any help from established naturalists even if every line in the book is proven and there are fully referenced sources!"

Of course, I knew from years of dealing with naturalists that unless something involved flowers, butterflies or moths or just birds, most were not interested.  I was a member of the British Naturalists Association, whose pioneers had, in the early 1900s written and covered many topics.  When I began to put what was then a paper together, I contacted every branch of the BNA up and down the country. There was no real knowledge or interest in foxes or getting out to do field work. Some branch secretaries even responded that "our members prefer their comfort"

Basically, no one wanted to help and most certainly did not want to go out into the wilds nor go through local newspaper archives.

When the work eventually became a fully referenced book looking at over 40 years of research, I sent two copies to the BNA.  One was for review in its periodical, Country~Side, the other would, I was promised on two occasions, be sent to the BNA President Dr David Bellamy and included a covering letter.  the BNA, as far as I can ascertain, did not review the book and were a little miffed that I had not offered a discount to BNA members...the BNA members who would not help and I ought to point out that at that time, just to get the ball rolling, the book cost £10 and I made 50p if a copy sold. Discount that.

Was the book reviewed? No idea as Michael Demidecki, Hon. Editor, Country-Side, said he would send a copy.  Never did and then answered  no further correspondence. December 2011 edition. Ordered a copy and never got it.

Did Prof. Bellamy get his copy?  Never heard a word.

Other naturalists/organizations were sent copies.  Nothing.  

So fox protection groups were offered copies. Lots of interest one would give an address to send copies to.

Consequently, my now late friend was proven correct.  I think three copies have sold!

My friend did see the work for the Red Paper: Felids and nodded approval.

So why haven't I published this work yet?  One reason is that I have been attempting for a long time to have two academics sign off on my using material we worked on together. I have stated before: never work with academics.  In this case I am going with the original permission that was never rescinded.

Even so, it may not appear until 2019 because there are hundreds of pages that need to be edited into an acceptable format.  The photo below shows only some of the material.  There are a lot of files and folders that need to be gone through also.

Below is a close up of that stack. Nothing is on computer.  I have plaster casts as well as other material to process.

Rough sighting maps need to be also made usable and these maps list hundreds of confirmed sightings.

Over the many years these maps have become somewhat tatty as they were desk maps to plot sightings as they were reported and confirmed.

There is the possibility of further DNA testing of samples and so things go slow.  This is serious research.

Here, however, I would like to  make an offer to anyone out there who has photographs or plaster casts of suspected non native cat prints whether lynx, puma or leopard, to please submit them but get in touch first.  Photographs of hair or other material can also be forwarded.

Please head any message as EAR Cat Study


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