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Do big cats really prowl in Sir Paul McCartney's backyard?

Kintyre group secures £150,000 as part of search for the elusive Scottish big cat.

Environmentalists have secured £150,000 to help determine - once and for all - if big cats exist in and around the Scottish home of Sir Paul McCartney.

Sir Paul has a farmhouse on Kintyre, Arygllshire, which he famously immortalised with the single Mull of Kintyre. Now the peninsula is getting a reputation for big four-legged creatures.

A number of sightings of a large black cat have been reported at Machrihanish - on the southern tip - and other places on Kintyre over the last few years. The big cat claims have now prompted a formal fact-finding mission.

The survey will focus on the 88-mile stretch from Tarbert to Southend known as the Kintyre Way. Locals and visitors alike will be asked to report sightings of big cats along the route.

The Kintyre Way Big Cat survey is part of a broader biodiversity project to improve the route. The £150,000 package includes contributions from Scottish Natural Heritage, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Argyll and Bute Council among others.

Once the cat hot spots are identified, infra-red cameras will be installed along the route in an effort to resolve the mystery.

John Bakes, the Kintyre Way treasurer, firmly believes in the existence of the cats. He is planning to visit Kenya later in the year in hopes of seeing a variety of big cats in the wild.

The big cat cameras are part of the major upgrading and marketing of the route - which is already bringing significant economic benefits to Kintyre.

The way is fast becoming one of Scotland's favourite long distance walks. In 2008 around 500 people walked the route.

With or without the cats, it is anticipated that 4,000 people a year will walk the way, which will potentially inject almost a million pounds a year into Kintyre.
 

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