Ever since we began reporting sightings of the so-called Beast of Listrolin, some people have doubted its existence and have been skeptical of the first-hand descriptions given by people who actually saw the feline animal, described as resembling a black panther.
Because I haven’t seen the creature, said to roam remote areas of East Waterford and South Kilkenny, I couldn’t swear in a court that it exists but I do believe that the people concerned are genuine and did encounter something very unusual.
There is also anecdotal evidence that even more people have spotted the ‘Beast’ but have not come forward for fear of ridicule.
However, there was hard evidence of unusual animals in the wild when a wild boar, of a kind not seen in Ireland for thousands of years, was captured in the Slieve Bloom Mountains, County Offaly, in the run up to Christmas 2011.
Recently, wild boar have been seen and shot on Tory Hill in South Kilkenny and no less than three separate herds of wild boars were discovered in the remote forestry areas of East and South Clare. A staggering total of 24 animals were captured from the wild.
The most recent herd was discovered last week in the Sixmilebridge area where two adults and two boar piglets were discovered. Prior to that, 15 animals were discovered in the Scariff area and a further five were discovered in a different forestry location in east Clare.
The authorities believe the animals were illegally imported and released on purpose so that their offspring could be hunted for sport.
“I think that this was an attempt to get them back into the big forestry areas in the country. If they did make it undetected, they would accumulate and would run wild in no time. The people would then come back and hunt them,” said an official.
A wild boar is similar in size and weight to a farm pig. But they are generally stronger and better built, as they forage over large distances. They can be aggressive towards humans, especially when they have piglets.
The Beast of Listrolin seems to be a solitary creature but some observers are now considering that, daft and dangerous as such an act would have been, it might have been one of a pair released in the same way only its mate perished for some reason. Perhaps, one day, we will discover the truth.