Written by Paul Clacher Copyright 2007
Recently I was asked to provide some of the theories on how the Big Cats were introduced into Australia. The below are more so possible clues than theories;
There are numerous theories on this one and the core of Crypto-zoologists here in Australia are still trying to come up with answers to that one. It's not like there is just one type of "Big Cat" roaming around the Australian bush, there now appears to be many different types of creatures being interpreted as "Big Cats" here in Australia. So, here is the first stumbling block, as there has been reported more than just one type of "Big Cat" roaming around the Australian bush.
It is important to note that Australia is a very old country; it is big and it is isolated from ALL other countries now by water, although many thousands of years ago, it may not have been. It has been suggested that there once was a land bridge between Australia and Asia. Also it has an abundance of gold (or had) and minerals, which could have been of great interest to anyone who may have been in the know.
There have been several artifacts excavated / found directly relating to these cultures with their presence right here in Australia. I have been advised that recent tests of the face mask of King Tut (Tutankhamen) allegedly show that the gold of this mask came from Gympie. Also it is written that kangaroo bones were unearthed in a burial vessel near one of the Egyptian Pyramids. ("The Oz Egyptian Enigma" - "THE OZ - EGYPTIAN ENIGMA" - By Paul White (From "Exposure" magazine, Vol 2 No.6, 1966) ) One of the animals worshiped by the Egyptians was the cat and in fact one of the most famous Egyptian cat Goddesses was Bast. Another Egyptian cat god was Maldet. (Patrick, R, "All Colour Book of Egyptian Mythology", Cathay Books, London, 1972, p. 70, ISBN 0 86178 039 6).
One of my Cryptid friends Mike Williams is currently extensively researching the occurrence of the "giganto felis catus" genus strain. We are both puzzled as to how these garden variety feral moggies are reaching the size of German Shepherds in just around 200 years, which is allegedly when the first non-aboriginal explorers set foot here in Australia. If Captain Cook was not the first European to set foot here in Australia with several escapee cats then this may explain many of the reported aberrations of these "Big Cats" (or dogs); for example - The Dhole, The Hyena, The Bob Cat or Manx or Lynx, The Panther or Puma and perhaps even the "giganto felis catus". (Australian Big Cats)
I have recently been informed also that the Dutch explorers who discovered the West Coast of Australia well before Captain Cook also liked to keep cats on board as their pets. We also know that there were several Dutch Shipwrecks on the West Coast of Australia. It is not unreasonable to theorize then that some of those cats made it to land and had offspring. There could even be earlier shipwrecks off the coast of Australia. After all Australia has a very large coastline. (Scientists to test European cats to fight Australian ferals - AM on ABC Local Radio)
In a 16th Century map of North Queensland there are two drawings within the map showing a depiction of two lions.
There are other theories that the Big Cats have always
been here and that they are just a very secretive animal and are only
ever seen by accident.
It has been suggested by several sources that the Big Cats may not be in fact Big Cats at all, but a type of Australian Marsupial, such as the supposed extinct Thylacoleo (Australian Marsupial Lion). I in fact have a short 2 second video of such a mystery creature. The Cat like creature is stocky like a Lioness, but is has a rigid tail like a Thylacine. I have also had reports of animals, that just do no match any know animals yet officially categorized here in Australia. Barbara Holdsworth whilst in Portland Roads in Far North Queensland has also had experiences with Big Cats that do not fit within the Panther and Puma genus.
One article "Mysterious - but it's no big cat! - The Courier Ballarat, Wednesday, November 30, 1994 by DENNIS WRIGHT, of Ballarat" advised that " Dennis recalled of the sighting which occurred about 15 years ago. "It was jet black, with a very glossy coat. Up until I looked through the scope I was convinced I was stalking a panther. The body was exactly like a panther." It was with shock that Dennis discovered he wasn't spying on something strange. "Cats have a very square looking nose, a very distinctive nose. This didn't have that. This animal was as marsupial looking as a possum or a kangaroo," he said. "The nose was long, and It didn't have a block shape head like a cat. "It was so unusual. It just stunned me so much. This thing was something I had never, never seen in my life. So totally unusual.".
A story published by the RAAF titled " In the dry season dark (AirForce The Official newspaper of the Royal Australian Air Force.)" tells of a story of a night patrol coming across an animal in Far North Queensland who they describe as an unidentifiable "Creature" on two separate occasion.
Certainly the theory that the US Serviceman released them during the Second World War is now accepted as truth. This did occur and I have covered this in another location of my web site.
In May 1991 John Henry (see also article "Big Cats In The Bush? By Ruby Lang - Australian Shooter Magazine, May 2005") from the Deakin University published a report through the Deakin University Library about "Pumas in the Grampians Mountains: A Compelling Case?". His conclusion states "The main conclusion of the Deakin Puma Study, from my perspective, is that there is sufficient evidence from a number of intersecting sources to affirm beyond reasonable doubt the presence of a big-cat population in Western Victoria." John Henry concludes inter alia "There is circumstantial and historical support for the conclusion that these big-cats are pumas, Felis concolor from North America." and were introduced by US Servicemen into the Grampian area from March 1942.
Whilst I was staying at the Halls Gap Caravan Park I started speaking with another traveler there who told me that as a child and teenager he lived in the small town of Dunkeld which is located at the Southern end of the Grampians and that he lived there until he commenced teacher training. He advised me that it was general public common knowledge that during the second World War American Servicemen from the Tank Division were stationed in the region and that the Australian Quarantine Services told the US Servicemen that they had to dispose of their Corp Mascots which were "Pumas" and "Panthers". The generally believed story goes that instead of killing their Mascots the Servicemen released their 5 "Pumas" and "Panthers" into the bush at the Grampians. My newly acquired friend advised me that this was not technically correct. He said that the true story is that the US Servicemen were stationed in the area near Macarthur and, yes they did have 5 Big Cats of "Panthers" and Pumas" and they were requested by the Australian Quarantine Services to kill the animals, but they did not kill them and the true location of where they released the Big Cats was not in fact in the Grampians at all, but that they were released at Byaduk near some caves.
As a result, I visited the Byaduk caves and found an extensive system of Lava tube caves. There are numerous Lava tubes in the Byaduk area and it is very easy to see that these Big Cats could live quite comfortably in these caves in this area. (Big Cats)
I cannot verify if all of the above are true, however they do provide some provocative thought into the subject.