The ‘ghost’ beasts of Italy that sees lions, panthers and caimans The most ‘popular’ seem to be the panthers, whose sightings, real or alleged, bounce on social networks, amplifying the word of mouth that usually accompanies the phenomenon of ‘ghost’ beasts. An evergreen, capable of igniting the ever more volatile attention of readers. Sometimes the animal is not the result of oversights or hallucinations, but it is real, as in the case of summer 2019 in Sardinia, where a caiman – mistaken for days for a crocodile – escaped from a circus was found after a few weeks.

The news of the most recent ‘strange cases’ in Italy, yet to be ascertained, is arriving from Tuscany and Puglia. Whether or not they are true, they usually involve a large deployment of forces in research, to prevent potential dangers, and fuel social alarm. In some cases the mayors impose precautionary restrictive measures, as happened last February in the province of Bari due to the possible presence of a panther.

The lioness of Siena

A lioness was spotted yesterday morning in the Sienese area on the Siena-Radi provincial road. The driver of a school bus, Lorenzo Cresti, swears he saw a big cat about a hundred meters from the bus. Version confirmed by the security officer traveling on the bus. “It was I who saw the lioness”, the driver reiterates on Fb. “And I can recognize animals”.

Animals lion panther caiman

lioness (Afp)

“The first reaction after the call was disbelief,” he reports the mayor of Monteroni d’Arbia, Gabriele Berni. “Immediately afterwards the stress increased: I wondered if at this moment we must have had such a problem besides the virus. I said to myself: ‘This too! We have faced natural disasters, the pandemic, now the lioness. We only miss UFOs’“Since then, a massive search operation has been triggered involving the police, the fire brigade and the Civil Protection, complete with helicopters and drones to fly over the area.

But after 24 hours there is no trace of the passage of the animal, not even a footprint that confirms its existence and after a last check tonight, the search will stop. As with the crocodile found in the Nuorese area two years ago, also in the Sienese area the police first of all made a stop in a circus that had stopped nearby. “We only have tigers”, the managers assured us, “and there is no animal missing from the call”.

The panther of Bari

Last February in the Bari area they went wild searches for a panther reported in the countryside of Castellana Grotte. The forest police group was supported by the veterinarians of the Safari zoo in Fasano (Brindisi). The last sighting in chronological order took place in the Termiteto district, between Castellana and Monopoli (Bari). Some citizens, who had reported the presence of the feline to the mayor, had also managed to take some pictures. At the end of February, other sightings in the countryside of Gioia del Colle and Turi suggested continuing the search, again without results. On February 22 it was a vet who reported seeing a panther.

Traces of the feline were found this time. According to the findings of the Carabinieri Forestali group of Bari, supported by a veterinary specialist expert in exotic animals, the animal has “left unequivocal traces of its passage, hitherto denoting little aggression and without causing damage to people or things”. In early March it was a citizen of Palese, also in the province of Bari, who renewed the alarm, after informing the local police command of Giovinazzo that he had met the animal, while he was harvesting asparagus in an uncultivated land. The man said he noticed the panther crouched on a trullo.

The mayor of Bitonto, Michele Abbaticchio, he invited the population to behave prudently and alertly, especially when walking in the countryside, and to remember the decalogue issued after a technical meeting convened in the prefecture in Bari in mid-February. The mayors of some countries affected by the sightings, in the meantime, had issued ordinances to prohibit cycle and pedestrian transit and sporting activities in the countryside, as well as tree pruning or similar works.

The feline of Benevento

Last year, an alarm, which then remained without follow-up, was launched in May in Sannio, in Campania, by the mayor of Benevento, Clemente Mastella. “It seems that a panther, or non-domestic animal, has been reported in the parts of the stadium, going to the Fondovalle Sabato and in the wooded areas. So be careful”, the mayor had warned. “Watch the children in the exits. And report any killing of pets.”

The alligator from Nuorese

In the summer of 2019 in Sardinia it was the municipality of Orosei, in the Nuorese area, that communicated that a crocodile, escaped from a circus, circulated freely in the countryside, in the tourist resort of ‘Sos Alinos’. The managers of the ‘Fantastic Martin’ had presented themselves to the carabinieri to report the disappearance of their caiman ‘Jack’ (actually, a female), convinced that someone had stolen it: a reptile one meter and ten centimeters long, not particularly dangerous.

Animals lion panther caiman

© Forestry Corps of the Sardinia Region

The caiman ‘Jack’ captured in Sardinia

On 1 September, after twenty days, the Forestry Corps of the Sardinia Region had found the caiman, in Cala Liberotto, on the central-eastern coast of the island. The caiman, raised in captivity, was in good condition and had been returned to his handler. He was found by a girl who walked with the dog in the pine forest: the reptile was near a cottage.



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