Big cats discovered being illegally kept in Norfolk village
A Cromer resident has been convicted for illegally keeping two serval cats without a licence. The individual admitted to the offence of keeping dangerous and wild animals without authority of a licence, under Section 1 (1) of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act.
The cats, a male and female were being kept at land in Colby and were seen when Norfolk Rural Crimes flew a drone over their suspected location. Serval cats are classified as dangerous wild animals under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. They are large animals that in the wild, are capable of tackling sizeable prey, including young antelope and are capable of jumping up to two metres in height and can reach top speeds of 50mph.
The resident received a fine of £40, plus costs, compensation and the victim impact charge totalling £674. North Norfolk District Council took the individual to court after a complaint arose in September 2021 regarding concerns for the animals.
To remove the associated risks, the council used the powers available to it under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act to seize the animals and both animals are now being cared for at zoos that have the staff, facilities and the expertise required to properly care for big cats.
The council is responsible for issuing Dangerous Wild Animal licences, which allows individuals to keep dangerous wild animals in circumstances which create no risk to the public and which safeguard the welfare of the animals under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.
James Windsor, Environmental Health Officer at the council, said: “This was an extremely serious case for the Council. The discovery of two Serval being kept in the district in accommodation which was not built in such a way that would have prevented their escape and put the local community at significant risk. Effectively recapturing an escaped animal would have presented significant challenges.
“We are aware that there has been a general trend in the UK for people to privately keep servals as they are used to breed Savannah cats which is a highly lucrative business. The council will not hesitate to take robust action where dangerous wild animals are being kept without a licence and in a manner which endangers public safety.
“We are extremely grateful for the assistance of Norfolk Police’s Rural Crime Team in both the detection of this crime and in bringing the matter to a satisfactory conclusion."