UPDATE: Readers come forward with more sightings after today's story 

THE much-fabled ‘beast of Burford’ may have made a comeback – and this time it looks like there were two of them.

It was some 25 miles away near Culham Lock where boater Michael Grainger, 72, and his wife spotted two ‘black panthers’ in a field by the water on Thursday morning.

The Colchester-based couple, who live on their narrowboat during the summer, said they had ‘never seen anything like it’ in the 15 years they’ve spent on the water.

READ AGAIN: Panther-like creature strolls across road in front of mum-of-two

Mr Grainger said: “There was one sitting on its hind legs in the field when another came out of the woods and started nuzzling it.

“They were both jet black and bigger than a Labrador.

“I got my binoculars and watched them before they wandered off into the trees.

“I have good eyesight and they were no more than 100 metres away. I know what I saw – it was unmistakable.”

Large black cats have been spotted in Oxfordshire for many decades with the most famous sighting taking place opposite the Masons Arms pub in Burford Road, Brize Norton, in 2005.


This supposed photograph of oft-sighted 'Beast of Burford' hangs on the wall in the Masons Arms pub in Brize Norton. 

This led to the nearby Cotswold Wildlife Park offering a reward for its capture but it was never found.

A photograph of the cat still adorns the wall of the pub and the animal has taken on a legendary status in the wilds of the county.

Further sightings have been reported across west and north Oxfordshire but the beasts have rarely been seen in the south before.

Mr Grainger said he phoned the police and was interviewed by wildlife experts in Wallingford.

He said there were a large number of dog walkers in the area and wanted to warn others of the potential of encountering wild animals.

READ AGAIN: 'That's a big old cat' - lorry driver snaps 'beast' at Oxford services

Danny Bamping, who runs the British Big Cats Society which keeps track of sightings, said it was ‘extremely rare’ to see two big cats together.

He said the animal was more likely to be a ‘melanistic jaguar or leopard’ related to animals that were released into the wild after keeping them as pets was made illegal in 1976.

thisisoxfordshire: Lorry driver Billy Williams took this picture of what he believes was a big cat on a side road near the M40 Oxford Services at Wheatley on Friday, May 5, 2017.

Lorry driver Billy Williams took this picture near the M40 Oxford Services at Wheatley in May 2017.

He added: “If there were two together it was either a couple who are breeding or a mother with her cubs.

“It is only a big cat if it has the capacity to roar – if not it is either a domestic cat or a hybrid.

“The lifespan for these animals is about 15 years so we’re likely to be seeing the third or fourth generation.”