Mystery solved as beast of Borders is captured on camera

What appears to be a wallaby sighted near Hawick.

What appears to be a wallaby sighted near Hawick.

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A retired farmer and cheesemaker is celebrating now he believes he has identified a mystery wild animal causing concern in a rural community.

Residents of Belses, a hamlet between Hawick and St Boswells, had reported several sightings of a dark-coloured animal the size of a large dog and with a very long tail, all in the dead of night.

Some feared it could be a panther potentially endangering farm animals, so villager Jim Shanks, 68, decided to investigate. He acquired a specialist camera for capturing evening images and attached it to a tree in the vicinity.

After three weeks and countless images, the mystery beast had not been captured on film, but just as he was about to give up, he came across the picture he wanted – of what appears to be a wild wallaby.

He said: “I’ve been to Australia and seen wallabies, and I’m convinced that is what it is, although someone else may disagree.

“I was thinking about giving up because I had dozens of pictures of badgers, foxes, rabbits and hares before the wallaby finally appeared.

“My daughter is a vet in Carlisle, and she says there have been quite a few in the wild in Cumbria. Perhaps this is proof that global warming is affecting animal migration into the Scottish Borders.

“Neighbours were living in fear, and I’m just happy to have put their minds at rest. There was much relief when it was discovered the mystery animal was a wild wallaby.”