A NEW interactive map has revealed the areas in North Wales - and Cheshire and Shropshire - where you are most likely to see a big cat.

Some experts estimate as many as 500 big cats, including pumas, panthers and lynx, could be living in the UK.

And in recent months a slew of sightings suggests that North Wales could be home to a population of big cats.

Map of big cat sightings created by Puma Watch North Wales using openstreetmap.org. © OpenStreetMap contributors

Map of big cat sightings created by Puma Watch North Wales using openstreetmap.org. © OpenStreetMap contributors

In April, there were four sights of a large cat-like animal along the A5 between Chirk and Oswestry.

There have been other clusters of sightings in areas near Pontybodkin, Pentre Halkyn, and Buckley.

There have also been reports of sightings in Abergele, Prestatyn, Llandegla, and Snowdonia.

Puma Watch North Wales has received an increasing number of reports of big cat sightings from Cheshire and Shropshire, with clusters of nine in Chester.

Some sightings have turned out to be cases of mistaken identity, such as monster domestic cat Sheldon who was caught on camera in Trelogan. Others have been hoaxes, including one using a photo of Chester Zoo's black jaguar Goshi.

But most remain unexplained.

These include a video of a cat-like creature caught on CCTV in Frodsham and a photograph of a mysterious black creature in Cefn Mawr.

The number of sightings led Tony Jones, founder of Puma Watch North Wales, to create a map of sightings, and well as other potential evidence of big cats such as paw prints or unusual animal kills.

The OpenStreetMap currently has more than 50 markers showing reported big cat encounters in North Wales, Shropshire and Cheshire.

Tony said: "We've created the interactive map to help people find sightings by location. We've simply had so many reports now that a map is the only decent way for people to browse through them.

"In time, we hope to add functionality to filter the sightings on the map by things like date, species, or to only show sightings with photos etc, but for now it simply shows every sighting.

"We'd also found ourselves creating map images manually when sharing reports sometimes, if we wanted to show the new sighting relative to previous sightings, so having the new map set up let's us generate these images much easier.

"We have long-term plans for a Puma Watch app and the map will be an integral feature of this, along with functionality to report sightings."

View the map at https://pumawatch.co.uk/puma-map/