This is one of the few possibly genuine big cat sightings in Europe. So often they are domestic cats. There is an innate fear of cats which promotes many false big cat sightings.
However, it is probable that the three big cat sightings since January 15th of a large black cat, a panther, in Puglia, Italy are genuine because this cat, which is probably a melanistic leopard, was allegedly owned by a mafia boss to boost his image and terrify rivals. Exotic animals have been used as a symbol of power among the criminal fraternity in Italy. They are sometimes used to extort money from victims and to protect property.
The cat was seen on January 15th by Nicola Chiarappa, 30, who owns a firework factory near San Severo, reports The Times newspaper.
Nicola said that he though it was a dog but he changed his mind after a closer look. He said it turned to face him and he saw its face and sharp teeth. The cat then jumped onto his car and ran off.
It is believed that the cat was owned by the boss of a criminal organisation called the Sacra Corona Unita (United Sacred Crown). It is thought that he released the cat when law enforcement began a crack down around Foggia in January, which started after arson and bomb attacks and a murder in the area.
As there have been no reports of big cats escaping zoos or circuses it has been reasonably presumed that this big cat was released by a crime boss.
A goat carcass was discovered in the countryside near Apricena with its throat ripped out. This would be a typical throat bite by a big cat to suffocate prey. The wound is being examined to see if it matches that of a big cat bite. Apricena is about 30 kilometers from the forest referred to above in the map.
There have been videos, photos and witness reports. Only The Times reports this story today, however. The cat is believed to have taken refuge in the forests on the Gargano peninsula. It is also believed that the animal will struggle to survive due to lack of hunting skills. I doubt that but I’ll agree that there is a good chance its life will be cut short. They hope to trap and tranquillise it.
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