A WEALTHY Bournemouth business owner who claims he and his daughter saw a Big Cat walk through their garden in 'broad daylight' and a man who witnessed a 'panther with a deer in its mouth' in the New Forest are just two of the people who have told their story to a Verwood film-maker.

Now Mike Coggan, whose initial film about the south west's Big Cat phenomenon scored more than 11,000 YouTube hits in two days, wants funding so he can investigate the long-running mystery properly.

"Multiple eyewitnesses have reported two puma-like animals around Bournemouth airport in the last few years," he claimed. "We placed a few camera traps around where these sightings were supposed to have been but so far, have not caught anything."

Mr Coggan, whose company Grizzly makes business videos, says several people who had reported sightings would not appear on screen because they feared ridicule. "The businessman was one of these. He said a Big Cat just walked straight through their garden in broad daylight, and then jumped over an eight foot fence onto the railway line."

Mike's interest in Big Cats started seven years ago when he was driving at Horton one night and saw what he first thought was an Alsatian dog but later believed was a 'black leopard' "It was pretty scary at the time but the encounter lasted around six or seven seconds," he said.

When asked why, despite having millions of dashcams, homecams, CCTV and phone cameras now in the UK, there was not one good image of a Big Cat, he admitted it was a puzzling question.

"I do know of a person who claims to have seen a Big Cat 26 times and you do have to wonder why they haven't got one image," he said.

Like many who investigate the phenomenon, he believes that Big Cats were amongst the creatures quietly turned lose by cruel owners who didn't want to make provision for them after the Dangerous Wild Animals Act in 1976.

This is the reason, he said, that they may still be able to hid in our relatively overcrowded island. "They are very elusive and shy - they can live by eating rabbits and smaller animals, they don't need to attack humans."

He also believes that the reason the creatures have not died of inbreeding is because: "They have 100 square mile territories and up to 1,000 sq km and with such a strong sense of smell they are pretty good at tracking each other down."=

Mike is looking for funding to make a longer and more detailed investigation and to pay for a thermal drone to be used in the hunt for the Big Cats of Dorset.

"It's a fascinating topic, they are like America's version of the Bigfoot and because there is no government body investigating it, the only people who are, are those who come up in news articles who claim to be exerts," he said.