|20070207 - "Catfight
over sightings database" by Rebecca Lang, Hawkesbury
News, Classifieds and Community, Wednesday, 7 February 2007
THE State Government has decided to take over the big cat database started by a group of concerned local residents, making it the first port of call for sightings made by members of the public.
But the move, panned as a ‘PR exercise’ in the lead-up to the State Election, has backfired badly after the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) reneged on a promise to issue public warnings about the cat.
Stakeholders were called to a meeting last week at Kurrajong’s Sassafras Creek Restaurant to discuss “the need to advise the public of the sightings of the ‘black cat’ in the area and what precautions should be taken”, according to a memo from the DPI’s Rob Williamson, acting manager of vertebrate pests.
Representatives from Windsor Police, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Rural Lands Protection Board and Hawkesbury City Council were all in attendance.
But at the meeting, DPI representatives expressed their desire to take over and control the database, which has been run by residents in tandem with Hawkesbury City Council for several years.
The database was started by Yarramundi’s Ken Pullen and Grose Vale’s Chris Coffey, and is currently maintained by East Kurrajong’s Karen Dolan, who interviews witnesses and records the sightings – which now number more than 260, at least four of them by DPI staff.
The trio – who have all seen the cat – agreed to the handover on the basis that a public warning would be issued this week alerting people living on Sydney’s fringe and regular users of national parks and reserves of the perceived ‘big cat’ threat.
But now they’re angry that the Department appears to have backed away from its promise after getting the database.
“If the DPI take over the database, it’s just going to go into a file,” Mrs Coffey said.
“They’ve done nothing with the database that they already have, which we gave them late last year.
"No one’s going to ring the DPI. People say ‘what’s the point? They’re not going to do anything’. And so far they haven’t.”
DPI spokeswoman Trudy Glasgow said while there had been discussions about warnings and signs in forested areas, nothing had been decided.
“It was really just an internal meeting to bring together people who are involved,” she said. “There’s ongoing discussion about whether there’s a need for signs.”
Council’s Chris Daley, the director of infrastructure services, first became enmeshed in the big cat saga eight years ago. He said at this stage Council was happy to relinquish control of the database.
“The cats been observed over a larger area than just the Hawkesbury, so it’s probably appropriate that a department that has representatives over a wider area handles enquiries,” he said.
“I would hope that they would continue to undertake the appropriate investigations of these reports.”
Big cat researcher Mike Williams said: “I’m not sure why they’re trying to acquire the database since they’ve already dismissed the sightings of 260 witnesses. They’ve also dismissed the opinions of scientists that the DPI hired who believe there is a breeding population of big cats in the Hawkesbury.”
"Catfight over sightings database" by Rebecca Lang Hawkesbury News, Classifieds and Community, Wednesday, 7 February 2007
| 20051208 - In
the dry season dark (AirForce The Official newspaper of the
Royal Australian Air Force.)
Stationed in a small observation post at RAAF Scherger (near Kakadu & Weipa), an ADG patrol encountered a creature they couldn’t explain. Private John Wellfare reports.
A patrol of airfield defence guards had a spine-tingling brush with some of far north Queensland’s more exotic wildlife when deployed to RAAF Scherger for Exercises Northern Awakening and Kakadu.
Stationed at a small observation post near the base’s sand quarry, the ADGs, from No. 2 Airfield Defence Squadron’s No. 4 Rifle Flight, encountered a large and unidentifiable “creature” on two separate occasions, both at night.
Leading Aircraftmen Mathew Cash, Cy Holland and Chris Hey had been sent out to intercept a Mauveland special forces team that had launched a raid on the base and was withdrawing along a creek line near their position.
The three ADGs, accompanied by a dog and its handler, moved from the creek line to the other side of the quarry, planning to intercept the enemy group as they entered the clearing.
Leading Aircraftman Cash explained what happened next.
“We came across the quarry and pulled up, looked around and this creature was sniffing on the ground, following exactly where we’d come through,” he said.
“It pulled up on a mound [about 50m away] and just sat there.
“We had our night weapon sight and our [night vision] on, watching it, and [the creature] was just sitting there sniffing and watching us.”
He said the creature stood about waist high on all fours, had a small head, was spotted and moved like a cat.
Leading Aircraftman Holland couldn’t reach a logical verdict on what type of animal it was.
“The two front legs were bigger than the two back legs, [with] big shoulder blades,” he said. “I would have said it was a hyena, but obviously we don’t have hyenas here.”
Even the trained tracking and attack dog seemed put off by the sight of the unusual creature; it quietly crept to the back of the group and stayed out of sight.
When asked about the creature, RAAF Scherger’s chief caretaker Flight Sergeant Brian Hughes believed he knew the answer.
“That’s the speckled boar,” he said. “There’s a boar that’s white and black and sort of grey colours in the quarry area.
“Unless it’s a dingo – some of the dingos get a really weird colour to them.”
But Leading Aircraftman Hey disagrees.
“No way,” he said. “It wasn’t a pig and it was no dog. Even the dog handler said it wasn’t a dog; it didn’t move like a dog.
“It was weird looking – it was something that we’d all never seen before.”
After the first sighting, which, coincidentally, occurred on the night of a full moon, some of the patrol members scanned the quarry for signs of the animal and found a large and unusual footprint.
Two nights later, the next time the Air Force dog was with the patrol, the creature appeared again at about 5am and lingered within 10m of the observation post. Again, the ADGs could not identify it.
In the dry season dark (AirForce The Official newspaper of the Royal Australian Air Force.)
20051127 - "Puma" a feral cat (The Sunday Mail - author unknown 27/11/2005 page 45)
DNA tests have sunk claims that a huge cat shot in Victoria was a puma. Researchers had hailed the find of a huge cat - shot by a deer hunter in rugged country in June - as proof that big cats were on the loose in Australia.
Kurt Engel 67, disposed of the animals carcass after photographing it but kept the 65 centimetre tail, from which DNA samples were taken.
Experts from Melbourne's Monash University have concluded it is almost 98 percent certain to be a feral cat.
Most cats have tails between 23 cm and 34 cm. (The Sunday Mail - author unknown 27/11/2005 page 45)
20051009 - I shot the big cat (Herald Sun - EXCLUSIVE by KELVIN HEALEY 09-Oct-05)
A VICTORIAN hunter believes he may finally have solved the state's big cat mystery.
Kurt Engel shot dead what is believed to be a leopard or a puma in Gippsland.
Mr Engel photographed the dead cat and cut off its tail after shooting it while hunting deer in rugged terrain near Sale in June.
A sample of the cat's DNA, taken from the tail, has been sent to an international laboratory for analysis.
The results, expected in about three weeks, will determine the feline's exact species.
The breakthrough follows decades of sightings of mysterious wild big cats throughout Australia -- but no physical proof of their existence.
Big cat researchers have hailed Mr Engel's kill as the best evidence ever uncovered to confirm the predators roam in the Australian wilderness.
Mr Engel, of Noble Park, said he was hunting in scrub when he noticed large paw prints in a dry creek bed.
Shortly afterwards, he saw a dark creature move, then caught sight of a crouching big cat.
"I could see the eyes of the cat, I kept very quiet," he said.
The predator charged in his direction.
"He came very low to the ground. His chest was nearly on the ground (as the cat moved) and he came straight towards me. I saw his teeth and white eyes -- I was only about 80 yards away," he said.
"I pulled up the rifle and at that moment it turned to the left.
"He was making long jumps. On about the third jump I shot him."
The bullet entered behind the cat's shoulder and blew its head off, he said.
Mr Engel said he found the remains of a freshly killed wombat nearby, which had had its skull crushed.
The 67-year-old said he had not believed big cats existed.
"I think it was a million to one chance -- I have been hunting in forests for 50 years and never seen a big cat," he said.
seen a big cat," he said. The retired engineer said he lugged the cat back to his camp, but put the carcass into the river after removing the tail and photographing it.
Mike Williams, a representative of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, a body that researches mysterious or out-of-place animals, said he believed it was concrete evidence that big cats are on the loose in Australia.
Hundreds of sightings have been reported over the years and a leaked government document revealed 59 sightings had been reported in Gippsland between 1998 and 2001.
The cats are said to be descendants of animals that either escaped from zoos or circuses or were released by US airmen who kept them as mascots while stationed in Australia in World War II.
"Kurt has killed an urban legend," Mr Williams said.
"He has proved all the hundreds of farmers have been telling the truth.
"There is a breeding population of big cats."
"The tail is 100 per cent -- it is a concrete case."
Mr Engel, who has also told his story to the Australian Shooter magazine, said he did not seek publicity for the find, and only agreed to speak after a fellow hunter put Mr Williams in touch with him.
Scientist Bernie Mace, who has been researching big cats in Australia for 30 years, said the animal was far too big to be a feral domestic cat, and predicted it would be identified as a puma.
"I feel this is a very important breakthrough," he said.
Richard Roswell, Melbourne Zoo's keeper in charge of carnivores, examined a photograph of the dead cat this week, but said it was inconclusive.
"We don't dispute that there is a possibility they (big cats) are out there, but we are yet to see a photograph that proves it categorically," he said.
Mr Roswell said the DNA would ultimately determine the breed of the cat.
(Herald Sun - EXCLUSIVE by KELVIN HEALEY 09-Oct-05)
"Bigcat Killed in Victoria. http://xrl.us/hw7v It measured nearly 6 feet to the remains of the neck. The tail was 26"+. It had recently killed a wombat by crushing its head before Kurt stumbled on to the animal. The exact same area has had sightings by farmers of big black cats for about 10 years and one or two instances of sheep jammed up trees several years ago. There are two more photos, one of which shows the beasty hanging up next to a caravan. The dna test....as usual ,I had to pay for that. >:( Here is Kurt having a chat. http://xrl.us/hw48 - Mike Williams"
20050501 - Big Cats In The Bush? (Australian Shooter Magazine, May 2005, Author Michael Williams)
Mike Williams has had a lifelong fascination with big game, but he says Australian hunters don't have to travel to the veldts of Africa to see the kings of cats in action. Williams, along with a growing number of zoologists and naturalists, believes big cats, most likely pumas and leopards, are roaming the Australian bush. "Reports of big cats have been received from as far afield as Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria," he said. "In many instances, the sightings have been made by people who are experienced bushmen, farmers and naturalists. These are people who know the animals of the Australian bush." Williams, a NSW SSAA member and keen pistol shooter, has been researching big cat activity around Australia for the past five years. "Strange stock losses, attacks and unusual predation have been reported in many of the areas that frequently yield big cat sighting reports," he said. "Unusually large tracks have also been found around farm dams and other waterways, indicating the cat[s] are making themselves quite at home." Williams has been collecting scats, spoor and hair samples from locations where the cats have been sighted for expert analysis and DNA testing. He has also been photographing deep scratches on tree trunks consistent with a large animal climbing and clawing. The beasts themselves, however, have remained frustratingly elusive.
Despite several pieces of footage being shot, at a distance, of overly large black leopard-like cats in recent years - all quickly bought by major television stations and disappearing from public circulation - nothing concrete has yet come to light. "It's incredibly rare to see an animal such as a large cat," Williams points out. "For instance, there area puma hunters in the United States with something like 18 to 20 years' experience [who] have never seen their prey until their dogs have treed the cats." In the 1980s, the Cordering region in Western Australia was a hotspot of big cat sightings, but unlike many other areas in Australia where jet-black cats are reported, these cats sported sandy-colored coats. Seasoned 'roo hunters failed to bag any of the tawny-colored cats despite countless all-night vigils using spotlights, star scopes and I high-powered .308 rifles.
The sightings and stock losses continued for several years and inspired the writing of a book, Savage Shadow, by journalist David O'Reilly. His sleuthing also uncovered the earliest known sighting in WA, near Latham, 270km from Perth, dating back to 1950. In Victoria, the Grampians mountain range has also been a popular spot for big cat sightings. So many reports were being logged in the 1970s that a Deakin University academic, Dr John Henry, conducted a study into the sightings and concluded that there were, in fact, big cats at large in the area. Sheep carcasses were found on a narrow rock ledge 300m above the valley floor in the Geranium Springs Valley, in the Grampians. US experts who analysed the evidence found that scat and spoor collected at the site matched that of a puma.
The reports, however, have not been confined to the mountain ranges. Last year a prize bull, a horse and several sheep were all savagely slain by a mystery predator as they grazed on various farms in Victoria's Packenham district. The bull had most of its face torn off, the sheep were decapitated and the horse had its throat ripped out and was dragged for six metres across the paddock to the spot where its owner discovered it.
Most recently, in NSW on Sydney's fringe, sightings have been made in the Hawkesbury, Kenthurst and Lithgow areas, keeping the Department of Agriculture and the National Parks and Wildlife Service on their toes. So many reports have poured in from these areas that the Department of Agriculture has been forced to put up a page on its website to deal with sightings. In one well-publicised case, a secured deer carcass three metres above the ground, left out as a bait for the mystery animal, was predated on by "an unknown animal capable of climbing a tree and holding on with claws, there were significant claw marks".
Dr Johannes Bauer, a respected academic who has years of experience in large cat surveys overseas, concluded in the same NSW government report that "difficult as it seems to accept, the most likely explanation of the evidence...is the presence of a large feline predator". A domestic cat killed in the Grose Vale area by something that crushed its thorax and then leapt about three metres onto the roof of the house left more than 50 prints that were "cat-like in form and leopard sized ... no evidence of nail marks associated I with the prints. This excludes the possibility' that these prints were made by a dog."
Some of the more compelling local witnesses include a couple who once lived in South Africa and were familiar with large cats, and several individuals who had worked as large cat handlers in zoos - people who know their big cats. "It's clear from the evidence collected above, by local people and government. employees, that there is a big cat operating in the lower Blue Mountains area," Williams said. "Big cats are serious predators that represent a real danger to the human populace just look at cases in the United States where cougars often attack hikers, or in Asia where people often fall prey to tigers and other large cats. "If I didn't know better, I would think we'd stumbled into an episode of The X-Files, where a very real phenomena is being purposely discredited and trivialised so we, the general public, won't be any the wiser.
"It's only a matter of time before sheep, goats and horses drop off the menu and something larger takes the fancy of our newest feral anima!." Theories abound as to how these kings of the cat world may have ended up in Australia. Some believe the cat in question is a relative of Thylacoleo carnifex, the native marsupial lion of the pleistocene era (about 1,600,000 years ago), which was believed to measure 1.5m in length and weigh about 120kg. The problem with that idea, however, is that Aborigines have no record of such a creature, nor do our colonial forebears.
Others say that the cats are descendants of pumas, which were kept as pets by American gold miners, let loose and allowed to establish a breeding population in the Australian bush - an idea perpetuated by the many sightings around central Victoria's goldfields.
Feral cats have also been touted as a possible source of the big cat sightings, but those who try to promote the idea that the pumas are in reality mutant felines forget that, genetically, it is impossible for a tabbysized cat to turn into a leopard-sized beast even though feral cats can grow up to twice the size of their domestic counterparts. It should also be remembered that small animals seem larger than they really are from a distance, however many of the sightings have been at close range.
Another popular story attributes the presence of the large, top-of-the-food-chain carnivores to careless US airmen who allegedly kept pumas as mascots, releasing them into the bush at the end of the war. Crashed circus vehicles are another favoured source of the mysterious cats, but these stories, while seemingly more plausible, are invariably just as difficult to prove as any of the others.
A more realistic proposition, however, is that the animals were released by either private zoo owners who went bust, of which there have been many in recent years, or by individuals whose exotic 'pets' finally outgrew their enclosures and their feeding budgets. A male puma can reach up to 204m in length and weighs around 100kg. The average big cat requires at least 1.4kg of meat a day.
"If trained observers such as big cat handlers, naturalists, government wildlife employees, professional shooters and farmers cannot tell the difference between an unusual large exotic cat, a fox or a dog, there's something seriously wrong with human perception," Williams said. To date, the government response to the big cat enigma has been unsatisfactory to many who live in areas of frequent activity. Bureaucratic channels have moved slowly in response to reports and government employees are now loath to put their names to comments in support of the evidence yielded so far, for fear of their jobs.
If the existence of big cats were to be acknowledged by government, Williams says, the ramifications would be staggering. "I don't think anyone in a position of authority will believe a word of it until a corpse is brought forth," he said. "In the meantime, don't think for a moment that the scariest thing you'll ever encounter in the bush is a 1O5kg pig. And if you do have a brush with a big cat, hope it's from a distance because you'll never hear it coming."
Williams is keen to hear from fellow shooters and hunters who may have had a sighting, witnessed strange livestock predation or collected or photographed any unusual tracks, tree scratches or kills. (Australian Shooter Magazine, May 2005, Author Michael Williams)
20050317 - TWO BIG CAT SIGHTINGS - St Arnaud North Central News Page 1, on Thursday 17/03/05
There have been two sightings recently in the St. Arnaud area of the big cats, believed to be pumas, that continue to remain a mystery.".
This follows the pattern of other sightings in early autumn where it is believed the animals range far out from their base in deep bushland and mountain areas on hunting trips.
It is also time when the spring cubs have been reared, the season is dry and food scarce, drawing the animals further out.
Of two recent sightings, one animal was brown and one black, with long bodies and long curving tails.
St Arnaud North Central News Page 1, on Thursday 17/03/05.
20040714 - Bull and 30 sheep killed By NATHAN JOHNSTON and ANDREW FENTON (Monbulk based "Ranges Trader Mail" page 1, 14/07/2004.)
A BULL and 30 sheep have become the latest victims of a series of attacks on livestock. While dogs are being blamed for the sheep attacks, it's feared a big cat may have killed the bull. A public meeting was held at the Kurth Kiln Park on Saturday to help deal with a recent spate of attacks that is costing local farmers thousands of dollars. Sheep owner Mavis Jorgensen arrived at the meeting with some of her 30 dead animals in the back of her ute. The lambs, many as old as four months, had wounds around the tails and had been left to die in the open paddocks after the attack last week. She blames domestic dogs for the slaughter.
"The attacks have happened fairly regularly but the lambs are not being eaten. Judging by the wounds on the animals, these are attacks from domestic dogs. "Wild dogs Mil more efficiently and take the bodies into the bush to be eaten." With market prices reaching $100 per lamb, Mrs. Jorgensen said she has lost $3000 from the recent attacks. She has only recently expanded her flock once again after a series of previous attacks left her considering her future. "We had to get rid of our sheep because of continued attacks and there seemed to be nothing we could do about it. It's too difficult to shoot the dogs because of the gullies and the bush.
"We tried bailing but that ended disastrously when an animal dragged the bait up to the house and my daughter's dog ate it and was poisoned." Cockatoo resident Salvatore Marotta told the Mail that something had attacked and killed one of his bulls on 2 July. "I saw it flat on the ground," he said. "I saw blood and saliva on the ground and the ear chewed off with nothing left. The mouth was chewed off and the nose." "It wasn't chewed off after it was dead because it was still bleeding." He was reluctant to blame the attack on a big cat but could offer no other explanation.
"It was strange - there must be something out there." Laurel Jones, also from Cockatoo, who had lost several Angora goats this year, said pet owners need to take more responsibility for their dogs. "There needs to be more publicity about the need to lock up your dogs at night." She said local government could do more to drive the message home. "I've suggested that the shire distributes a leaflet with rate notices that details what is expected of dog owners in the country. "Many people who move here from the city think it's great for their pets because they have all of this extra space to run in. "But I'm getting fed up with having to lock up my animals at night/it creates a lot of work because I have to clean the shed out every day."
Mrs Jones said electric fencing was an expensive alternative suggested by authorities at Saturday's meeting. "The primary industries representatives suggested that seven line electric wire fencing had been successful in the northern parts of the state and that it has been subsidised in some areas. "But I've had complaints from neighbours that the static from our electric fence is interfering with internet service in the area. She said farmers were losing the right to farm in the hills. "We made a number of suggestions to the Department of Primary Industries representatives, including the introduction of trapping and halting on private land.
"But we were told that this would have to go before a higher committee and any changes would take some time in coming." And other landholders blame big cat attacks for continuing stock losses. Wandin Yallock resident Kevin Houghton was shocked to find the decapitated body of one of his sheep on 18 June.
"The head has been completely removed and the spine and ribs have been bitten through almost as if something just swallowed the whole lot in one snap," he said. "I have seen many sheep mauled in the 30 years I have kept sheep and goats but nothing like this." Two days later Mr. Houghton found the remains of a goat in an adjoining paddock. (By NATHAN JOHNSTON and ANDREW FENTON - Monbulk based "Ranges Trader Mail" page 1, 14/07/2004.)
20040601 - Panther on the prowl? (News from the Pakenham Gazette June 2004 - page unknown - Author Diana Wells)
A FARMER and fauna specialist believe a horse killed in Cockatoo last week may have fallen victim to a big cat. Spooked horses are staying close by the house of a 32-hectare (80-acre) Paternoster Road property after one of their four-legged equine friends was mysteriously and predatorily killed with a single blow to the jugular last Thursday evening.
The unfortunate victim was "killed for the game, rather than the meat," said property owner Ray Barry, who found one of his 20 beloved horses dead the following afternoon. "It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen," he said. "It opens your eyes up." The size of the lump stripped out of the horse’s neck is something Mr Barry cannot fathom. "I’ve been around a while, and if anyone said to me it could have been a predator such as a panther, I would say no way, they’re crazy," he said. "But this was a direct kill, plus the horse was dragged for about 20 feet – you can see the drag marks as clear as anything," he said. "There is a rumour about a black panther that roams around this area. "You don’t think it’s possible, but if you look at the gaping hole in my horse’s neck, you think twice. "Also, what could have dragged a horse that distance? It isn’t something small. "Of course, foxes have been in since the kill and done more damage, and wedge-tailed eagles have gone straight for the eyes."
Mr Barry is wondering what happened to his horse and hopes to never see anything like it again. He called upon the services of an Australian rare fauna researcher from Kallista. Wolfram Richter has been researching the field since 1960 and suspects two large animals, presumably large cats, killed the horse. "One could have been the territory holder, which would have attacked the horse, and the other would have then attacked it (the territory holder) – so neither would have taken any more food," he said. "The horse is now too far gone for me to do any post mortem investigations, and has also been subject to second predation - which would have been foxes.
"Mr Richter said he recently sighted a couple of pumas, one female that was melanistic, or primarily black in colour, and a male of normal reddish-brown colouring. "There are both pumas and leopards in this country," he said. Mr Richter said what some people called a panther was a member of the leopard family – just a melanistic member. "If a cat had been sighted and it was black in colour it would then be a melanistic leopard," he said. Mr Richter said the scratch marks on the horse were distinct markings of claws and "fairly deep", such as those a big cat’s claws would cause. "It could not have been a dog, I am of the superstition that it was large cats, but I would need to see under the skin to determine more exactly the claw marks," he said. "However, it is too late in this case."(News from the Pakenham Gazette - page unknown - Author By Diana Wells)
Sightings of large predator cats in the Australian bush have been dismissed as phantoms for more than 50 years. Now, for the first time, an investigation by the NSW government has concluded that it is likely there are, indeed, big cats out there. Bernard Lagan reports.
"Night falls. In a lonely valley called the Sink, four people prepare for a quiet evening. Then in his orchard, Murray Jacob sees a moving shadow. Across the swamp, his neighbour Ronnie watches her lover leave and feels her baby roll inside her. And on the veranda of the Stubbses' house, a small dog is torn screaming from its leash by something unseen. Nothing will be the same again." - In the Winter Dark, by Tim Winton
At night, Paul Coffee stamps his feet when he walks the 50-odd metres from his office, past the trees with deep, mysterious gouges to his isolated house in woodlands on the eastern fringes of the Blue Mountains. When his pet dog is jumpy and Coffee – witty and solidly built – has the more certain feeling that something unexplained is back, the environmental consultant will drive his Land Rover the few minutes home.
In Kenthurst, on Sydney's far north-western boundaries, Luke Walker, 18, is wary of night checks on the mailbox at the end of the long driveway to the family's bush-set home. The home-theatre installer still has the jagged gouges on his arm and torso that he suffered on a Monday night in March when he told his mother he was going to get the mail. He came back to the house covered in blood after a big animal leapt two metres and attacked him. It was no dog and far too big to be a feral cat, he believes.
Dr Robert Saltmaris, a dentist in Windsor – on the Hawkesbury River, north-west of Sydney – was stunned on a June night last year when the headlights of his Nissan Patrol picked up a big cat as he drove to his 15-hectare rural property. "It was just there by the side of the road. It was no pussycat. It was a panther and it was huge. I turned around and shone the lights back up. It was crouching, looking at us. I could see it quite clearly. There is no doubt what it was. It was definitely a panther," he says.
Dr Rex Stubbs has been a general practitioner in Windsor for 25 years and mayor for eight. He's softly spoken and not given to wild talk. He believes it more likely than not that a big cat is out there – maybe several big cats.
"The people who have seen it are very serious people. A number of them are professionals, long-term residents and people that I'd had long-term contact with. They are not the type of people who would be setting up a prank," Stubbs says.
Tim Winton's chilling 1998 novel, In the Winter Dark, drew on the mythology of big predators in the Australian bush. Sightings of panthers or pumas have been reported since the gold rush years and mostly dismissed by authorities as hoaxes. Now, an investigation by the NSW government has concluded for the first time that it is likely that the big cats are indeed out there.
The results of the recent investigation, conducted by the NSW Department of Agriculture in the latter part of last year, were given only limited public release after the investigator, Bill Atkinson, the department's rural NSW-based Agricultural Protection Officer, concluded in his report: "Nothing found in this review conclusively proves the presence of free-ranging exotic large cats in NSW, but this cannot be discounted and seems more likely than not on the available evidence."
Additionally, The Bulletin has uncovered a far more comprehensive study, led by Victorian scientific academics, that concluded 25 years ago that pumas ranged Victoria's Grampian Mountains. Their full report has never been released – until now.
The NSW finding has vindicated a small group of people, mostly in and around the hamlet of Grose Vale in the Blue Mountains, who have for a long time insisted that a large black panther or similar creature roams the streams and creeks in the more populated low country during winter when food is scarce in the higher, wilderness parts of the mountains. Locals Christine Coffee and Ken Pullen have both seen the animal and keep a database of sightings and a log of mutilated local stock – such as the mauling of goats and horses and the discovery of sheep and goat remains in trees.
Christine and Paul Coffee can point to long, deep gashes high on the trunks of trees on their property and they have seen prints similar to those of a big cat. Christine first saw the animal nearly a decade ago. It bounded away when it spied her then stopped. "I will never forget the way it turned around and looked at me," she says. She has no doubt she saw a very large black big cat she believes was a panther. Early last year her pet dog suddenly became very agitated as Christine passed by large trees. She later discovered the deep scratch marks.
Ken Pullen has seen the animal once – in 1996. "I couldn't have mistaken it for anything other than a big cat," he says. Two years later three local children found the remains of a sheep in a tree, a sighting verified by Pullen. Local police and others now refer sightings to him and, he says, there have been times when sightings at similar times and locations have been reported by people unknown to each other. The database records some 270 events involving the animal – or animals – including animal mutilations and sightings. The most recent sighting was two weeks ago when a retired couple in the area were shaken by the sight of a panther-like cat that appeared about 8am.
Even some who've never seen the animal are convinced of its existence, such as the chief engineer of the Hawkesbury Shire Council, Chris Daley. "There have been just too many sightings for there not to be something out there." So seriously does the council take the matter that it now maintains its own database of sightings.
While many in the scientific community are sceptical, those who have inspected the Grose Vale area believe the claims to be true. Dr Johannes Bauer, experienced in big cat surveys in China and Nepal and a lecturer in environmental management at the University of Sydney, was asked by the NSW government in 1999 to report on big cat sightings in the area. Bauer examined evidence including photos of mauled livestock, analysis of droppings, casts of paw prints and scratches on trees. His findings were kept secret until they surfaced late last year in the Department of Agriculture report.
Bauer had not minced his words in a letter setting out his findings: "Difficult as it seems to accept the most likely explanation of the evidence is the presence of a large feline predator in this area, most likely a leopard, less likely a jaguar (unless this is an elaborate hoax by someone in the community). I consider the habitat the animal occurs in as optimal leopard habitat, with probably abundant prey including macropods, possums, cats, stray dogs etc. I would also think that within the densely forested area dissected by many gorges and rock formations, the few sightings of this animal are not surprising. Despite the hundreds of jungle surveys I have been on, I've only ever seen glimpses of leopards. The long time-frame would suggest the animal present in the area is now rather old. The increase in livestock attacks or kills during the past years could have some connection with the age of the animal."
He has been supported by at least two vets who have investigated the Grose Vale sightings. Both have set down their conviction in writing that a big cat is roaming. Their evidence includes livestock obviously mauled by a large carnivore. One of the vets, Dr Keith Hart, of the Moss Vale Rural Lands Protection Board, which covers much of mid NSW including Grose Vale, has also raised concerns that scientific analysis of animal droppings in 2000 strongly pointed to the presence of a carnivore that was not a feral cat, dog or fox. He told The Bulletin: "I am convinced there is a big cat in the Grose Vale area."
How would such an animal come to be living in the Australian wilderness? Theories include escapes or releases of illegally held animals, descendants of pets kept by goldminers or the offspring of pumas kept as mascots by American airmen during the war years.
The latter theory is considered the most plausible in the most exhaustive study yet conducted into the possibility that big cats roam parts of Australia. Commenced in 1976, it was conducted by Deakin University lecturers and students in Victoria's Grampian Mountains – an area long rumoured to harbour big cats. The Deakin researchers acquired three eyewitness accounts of American airmen with pumas in 1942. Two were in the Mount Gambier area of South Australia and one at Nhill, far-western Victoria, where the Americans had a wartime base. The Deakin researchers found two former Australian guards at the base who remembered a USAF bomber landing at Nhill in 1942, probably from the Philippines. A puma cub on board was taken by road to the edge of the Grampians and set free.
The study was headed by Dr John Henry, an associate professor of education at Deakin University. In the mid 1970s, he was a lecturer in the science faculty and began the university's puma study. His final report, buried away in the university library, is fascinating reading. Its revelations – all well documented and sourced – include:
l In the rugged Geranium Springs Valley in the Grampians, sheep carcasses were found on a narrow ledge, 300 metres above the valley floor. Mutilated animal carcasses were also found on the valley floor.
l Droppings recovered from the valley were identified by a leading US big cat expert as matching puma faeces.
l Within a hidden rock shelter on Mount Bepcha in the Grampians, many animal remains – ranging from large cattle bones to those of freshwater tortoises – were found. Researchers also took casts of two large carnivore prints, later judged by US experts as matching those of a puma.
Henry has never resiled from the study's conclusion that it is beyond reasonable doubt that a big cat population lived in the Grampians.
Last year, the NSW government asked a seven-member panel of big cat experts to view a video shot near Lithgow, west of Grose Vale, of what appeared to be a large black cat – possibly a panther – in close proximity to a large feral cat. They concluded that the larger of the two was a huge feral cat, two to three times normal size. Their reasoning was only that they did not think a feral cat would be so close to a panther.
While the panel could not explain very large paw prints on a concrete driveway at Grose Vale, its leading members remain sceptical that a big cat – such as a panther or leopard – is on the loose. Says panellist Dr Sandy Ingleby, the Australian Museum's collections manager: "I am fairly sceptical, yes."
Another, David Pepper-Edwards, of Sydney's Taronga Zoo, says he's never seen evidence in the wild that such an animal exists nor has he seen a clear photograph. However, the NSW government is drawing up an advisory document to help concerned people to identify the footprints and droppings of large animals. The Minister for Agriculture Ian MacDonald told The Bulletin his department stands by the conclusion that it is more likely a big cat is roaming than not.
People such as Stubbs, the mayor of Hawkesbury, believe it is a time for a concerted effort involving the NSW government to trap the animal or animals. He says: "There is a real potential – sooner or later – for one of these animals to come into close contact with children. If the animals perceive themselves to be under threat, they are more likely to attack, as I understand it."
Luke Walker, the Kenthurst teenager attacked in March, said his arm bled for four days after the attack and he suffered fevers. A typically laconic Australian youth, he doesn't want to over-dramatise what happened to him. But, he says: "It gave me some nice war injuries. I know it was big and black. I know it was feline." Author - (The Bulletin February 3, 2004 pp37 - 38 Author Bernard LAGAN)
20040103 - Our big cat of many tales by Author STATE AFFAIRS Sean Parnell (Courier Mail Saturday 03 January 2004 [page 19])
The State Government has tried to eradicate fire ants in Southeast Queensland, quash a dingo uprising on Fraser Island, save neglected horses on Palm Island and pester a white whale named Migaloo.
The Government, under both Labor and Coalition control, has also watched the Interstate march of the cane toad and the destruction of native animals like the elusive quoll.
But did you know that the Government, through the Queensland Parks and wildlife Service, also has been out searching for those fabled big cats?
News that similar searches had been conducted Interstate with no success prompted this reporter to use Freedom of Information laws to find out what escaped circus animals or prehistoric felines are doing the rounds in Queensland. So as people take a break from the heavy world of state politics, here is some light relief for the holidays.
One QPWS ranger recently visited a farmer at Withcott, at the bottom of the Toowoomba Range, and was told in passing of a "very large black cat" seen on his property.
The animal was described as being all-over black, as big as a medium-sized dog but with no aggressive tendencies.
'The ranger duly reported back on his discussion with the farmer, who wanted his identity to remain secret for fear the locals would regard him not only as reclusive but also mad.
"I do not know what to make of these accounts, as I am somewhat sceptical of any cryptozoological accounts, Including those of 'giant cats' In Australia," the ranger wrote on September 24 laat year.
"However, this person impressed me as being a competent observer of natural history generally."
The QPWS holds quite a bit of information on big cat sightings In the Toowoomba region, particularly from 1997. In the space of a few months, a large cat was sighted on Thomas Rd near Paradise Creek; a woman at Lowood heard growling noises near her home, and another local reported a puma in the foothills of the Bunya Mountains.
People in the Hampton area claimed to have seen a big cat, about 1.8m long, on numerous occasions but said it disappeared when dingo bailing was carried out.
But it was a casual golfer who provided the QPWS with the most detailed evidence of what he described as a panther. On January 26, the man was driving down the Toowoomba Range In the early morning mist when he saw a large cat feeding on roadkill.
He told the QPWS it stood higher than the bonnet of the car, and blinked a few times belore bounding over the fence and away.
The golfer, on his way to a game on the coast, declared the panther to be about 80cm high at the shoulder, 1.8m long, and noticeably muscular with solid, heavy build and thick short legs.
His sighting allowed for 10 photographs to be taken of supposed panther prints in the dirt (about two-thirds the width of one of those felt-tipped black pens), along with one photograph of what appears to be panther poo.
The QPWS decided the evidence was inconclusive, but the close call might have prompted the panther to lie low on the coast for a while (before apparently heading home to Withcott last year).
In May, 2001, someone spotted what they thought was a cheetah — well. It had the face and body of a cheetah and was almost orange, but with no spots, and a bushy tail with & white tip - near the Maroochy River on the Sunshine Coast. Curiously, a Department of Environment and Heritage official had a week earlier Jotted down his investigations of a likely big cat found to have chewed and scratched at a mango tree neat Mareeba some years earlier.
Also in mld-2001, there were reports of one or more tasmanian tigers being seen near Montville, Noosaville and Buderim, while someone put together a booklet on relatives of the tasmanian tiger living in the Kenilworth area. The booklet was apparently designed to stimulate tourism in and around Kenilworth, and even had photos of "Bunyip-type creatures" which the QPWS regarded as simply diseased foxes.
But the author told Environment Minister Dean Wells in confidence that he believed there was a population of "tiger cats" in the area and asked for a survey to be undertaken. In May, a policy adviser working for Wells advised the author of the booklet that yes, there were relatives of the tasmanlan tiger living in southeast Queensland.
"I can confirm that the spotted tail quoll (Dasyurus macalatus) has recently been sighted in parts of Southeast Queensland, including Main Range, the MacPherson Ranges and a very recent one In the Conondale area," the adviser said.
We should all hope that. every dubious sighting of a tasmanian ' tiger, panther, puma or cheetah turns out to be a quoll. (Author Sean PARNELL is state political correspondent for the Courier Mail) firstname.lastname@example.org
Tiger Cat Kenilworth 1953 (Photo Mac Pearce courtesy Steve Rushton) Note:- 4 litre drum under Tiger Cat's mouth
20031102 - Big cats not a tall tale By Eamonn DUFF (November 2, 2003 The Sun-Herald)
A State Government inquiry has found it is "more likely than not" a colony of "big cats" is roaming Sydney's outskirts and beyond.
The revelations are the result of a fresh four-month investigation into the "black panther phenomenon" which for years has plagued residents across Sydney's west, north-west, Richmond, the Blue Mountains and Lithgow.
While National Parks and Wildlife officials are yet to implement a positive course of action, a senior source confirmed last night a big cat expert had been contacted with a view to future work.
He said: "While we still haven't got conclusive evidence that the creature exists, compiled evidence points strongly to the fact that it does."
The source added: "If and when an expert is commissioned, the first aim would be to identify exactly what sort of animal it is. The second would be to ascertain how many there might be."
Although big cat sightings across NSW date back more than 100 years, speculation intensified in May 2001 when a successful Freedom of Information request revealed the NSW Government had been maintaining a secret file on the creature.
It also revealed wildlife hierarchy were so concerned about the potential threat to humans that they commissioned big cat expert Dr Johannes Bauer to evaluate what had previously been deemed unthinkable. He concluded: "Difficult as it seems to accept, the most likely explanation of the evidence . . . is the presence of a large feline predator."
While conclusive proof has failed to materialise since, sightings have continued to flow in from bushwalkers, tourists and local residents, including a NSW police officer and a Qantas pilot.
When Kenthurst teenager Luke Walker suffered deep cuts in March this year and said they were the result of a terrifying struggle with a panther-like cat, the NSW Government reopened the case.
The latest report, compiled by NSW Agriculture and obtained exclusively by The Sun-Herald, included a review of sightings and extensive interviews with residents of Grose Vale, where the creature has frequently been sighted.
It found that recent witnesses to big cat activity in NSW were highly credible. Also taken into consideration was a previous report by Dr Keith Hart, district veterinarian of the Moss Vale Rural Lands Protection Board, who, after testing scat samples, concluded a large cat was living in the Grose Vale area.
The report said: "Nothing found in this review conclusively proves the presence of free-ranging exotic large cats in NSW, but this cannot be discounted and seems more likely than not on available evidence."
One theory the report refused to dismiss was that "historically, sightings in Eastern Australia occur in old gold mining areas and that anecdotal evidence suggests pumas [Felis concolor] were brought to Australia by American goldminers in the 1850s. The report added: "These animals may have subsequently escaped or were released, causing numerous sightings over many years."
Even as the Government was preparing to go public with its latest findings, a Central Coast family approached NSW Agriculture last month with claims that a huge black cat was "openly roaming" their newly purchased Mudgee weekend holiday home.
Speaking to The Sun-Herald, Chris, who refused to reveal her surname through fear of would-be hunters overrunning her property, said: "We've watched it stalk wallabies, we've seen it sitting high up in a tree. It roams around like a large family dog that thinks it owns the place." She added: "There is absolutely no disputing what it is. The kids are terrified and, to be perfectly honest, so are we." (Author - By Eamonn Duff - 02/11/03 - The Sun-Herald)
20030819 - Lark in the Park for Tassie Tigers
"Tasmanian tigers are running wild in parkland 25km from Melbourne's CBD, according to at least 20 sightings reported to the Victorian Government.
Freedom of information (FOI) requests revealed 63 possible sightings of Tasmanian Tigers and Big Cats in Victoria, including a Parks Victoria report into multiple tiger sightings in the Warrandyte State Park, in Melbourne's Northeast.
Other repeat sightings of Tasmanian Tigers, Panthers and Pumas since early 1990's centred on Wilsons Promontory National Park, in the Southeast, and the Grampians range, in the West.
Melbourne researcher Michael MOSS, who made the FOI request, said the Government was ignoring strong ancedotal evidence that the tiger was alive and breeding in Victoria.
The last known Tasmanian tiger, or Thylacine died in captivity in Hobart in 1936. It is believed to have been extinct on the Australian mainland for 2000 years.
But, Mr. MOSS said several recent sightings were made by credible witnesses, who gave detailed descriptions of the striped marsupial. (Article "Lark in the Park for Tassie Tigers - "Courier Mail 19/08/03 page 7")
19950827 - 'Buderim Beast' made man shake - By Toni McRae
Roy Swaby saw a male 1.5 metre Eastern Grey 'roo flash into his headlights at 30-40 tan/h "to total panic" and he braked heavily to avoid hittingit. The terrified kangaroo sped off into the scrub at the side of the road to join Its mate, who was also bounding tor its life from an unknown pursuer. "Then I saw it," Mr Swaby, 58, a retired marine engineer, ol Woodgate, south of Bundaberg, said. "This Incredible sandy-coloured striped animal leapt out • from the side of the road a full 15 feet and into the glare of my 100-watt hal. ogen spots and tour headlights. "It stopped on the road, turned to look at me and tell back on to its huge hindquarters, its large green-yellow eyes glowing to the light, and then it opened its jaws and snarled at me.
"I have never seen anything like it.The white teeth were large and the jaws like a crocodile, like a mantrap. It took two steps and then suddenly crouched and sprang again, 15-20 feet, - this time into thes crub.
"I was 20 metres away from it and my lights lit up the road and the creature like it was daylight. I could even see wiskers". Mr Swaby's incident, which happened on Tuesday, August, is among more than a dozen which have recently been reported to The Sunday Mail in the wake of our articles on the "Buderim Beast", the mysterious striped dogmarsupial-like creature roaming Queensland and which some eye-witnesses believe is the ostensibly extinct Tasmimign tigger.
"I drove home shaking," Mr. Swaby said. "I am almost six feet tall and about as much again across and not prone to fear, but whatever it was I saw that evening had me white and Jelly-like." Mr Swaby drew a picture of the animal he saw In front of his wife Beryl and two neighbours and next morning he went back to the road to photograph massive paw prints be believes were left by the 60-701b creature. "The animal was 4-5 feet long and its huge tail ; was another 2-3 feet. The stripes started halfway down its back.
"I thought it was like someone had cut a dingo in half and a 'roo in half and joined them together. Except for those massive teeth and Jaws. And it was sleek and healthy looking." Mr Swaby said he hadn't touched a drink for 20 years, be didn't smoke any "funny weed". "On the Thursday following I went to Bundrrberg to try to check in the library what it was I'd seen and I found a lithograph of a Tasmanian tiger," he said. "There is absolutely no doubt that is what I saw". (The Sunday Mail 27/08/1995 p21.)
19950709 - Doris captures Buderim beast - By Toni McCRAE
PICTURES taken by a Sunshine Coast woman of a mysterious dingo-like animal have stirred the possum in the Buderim Beast mystery and baffled a top zoologist. "I've never seen anything like this," said Hobart's Dr Eric Guiler. "I need to see more. I really cannot tie it In with anything but there is definite dog in it — and something else. "Ask the local Aborigines. If it's lasted 20,000 years perhaps, they must have seen it, must know of It." The pictures were sent to The Sunday Mail by Mrs Doris Crerar after reported sightings of the mysterious, skulking creature known as the Buderim Beast. Mrs Crerar photographed the thin, hungry animal after it wandered on to her property at Buderim West in search of food. We passed copies on to Dr Guiler, who Is regarded as Australia's foremost tracker of the Tasmanian tiger, thought to he extinct for almost 60 years.
There have been more than 25 local sightings of the Buderim Beast — witnesses tell of a large loping animal, sometimes striped, sometimes with a whiskered cat face or pointed ears or dog-like snout, but always with a long kangaroo-shaped tail.
Steve Rushton, ot Flaxton, who has been studying mystery animals for 20 years, has several explanations. His wife, Carol, reported sighting "something that looked like a striped hyena" runhing into the Kondalilla National Park late one morning during the Christmas break. Mr Rushton said: "We could be seeing a nocturnal descendant of the thylacoleo or wakaleo which possibly roamed Australia at least up to 13 million years ago. "A report from the 1920s mentions a large cat-like creature which balled a large 'roo up against a tree and after stripping the skin clean away from its paw, flew through the air and disembowelled it in one strike.
"And In 1989 at Pomona a biologist, an educated man not prone to flights of fancy walked into his hallway. A striped beast not like a cat or dog, flew past him and shot through a window 5m away in one bound. "The man then found his kitten in the study disembowelled and the skin partially laid back." (The Sunday Mail 09/07/1995 p7.)
19950702 - BEAST OF BUDERIM On THE PROWL - By Toni McRAE
The Beast of Buderim keeps rearing its head. The Sunday Mail has received dozens of letters, faxes and phone calls reporting sightings of the' elusive creature which mostly resembles the ostensibly extinct Tasmanian Tiger. . "A thing with a big cat face and huge green eyes reared up on its hind legs in our headlights," said Karen Robinson, 30, who encountered the beast while driving with her girifriend from Nanango to Murgon in April. "We hit it at about 70km/h at 6.3e~t night. It was golden like a lioness and had a long, long tail and strong back legs. I'll never forget it as it reared and glared at us. "It did $1500 worth of damage to my car, pushing the guard into the wheel. I used my mobile to call for a tow. But when we looked there was no blood and 'just one little bit of fur. "That was no dingo or kangaroo we saw."
And three years ago Bill Watson, 37, was out shooting around Goondiwindi with two mateswhen they Saw a large goldy striped beast with a dog-like head and long tail. "We tried to shoot it but it ran like the wind. The closest thing I can think to describe it is the •Tasmanian Tiger." Most of those reporting sightings to The Sunday Mail said they had not spoken before for fear of ridicule or if they had told people about it they'd have been laughed at. Sue Pitcher, of Woombye. writes of the time she and a group of friends saw a "unique animal" on the slopes of Buderim. "This was no ordinary dog. He had not much hair on his upper body and seemed to have a skin problem like mange. His tail was large like a wallaby's tail. Other reports describe the cagey carnivore as "something like a greyhound but with distinctive stripes across its back", "a dusty stripey dog-like creature travelling very fast" and "an animal with very wide bands across its six foot long body".
One of the clearest sightings was by "TC" Good, a naturalist and micro ecologist from Brisbane. "It was June 25 last year and my wife and I saw it in the lights of the car as we drove up the New England Highway to Brisbane. "It was incredible. It was iron rock red, more than two feet high with wavy medium vertical chestnut banding starting. aft of the ribs and ending on the flank. (The Sunday Mail 02/07/1995 p17.)
19950625 - Odd beast seen again - By Toni McCRAE
THE strange, striped beast prowling the Sunshine Coast hinterland has been seen again — this time at Pomona.
Ron West, 62, of Pomona, said yesterday he and his wife Mandy saw the beast near their home one evening. "We didn't say anything to anyone because we thought people would think we were foolish." said Mr West, owner of the town's Majestic Theatre.
"But after reading the article in last week's Sunday Mail, we knew we weren't alone in what we saw. "This animal was probing some sort of dead animal on the white centre line of the road. We both sort of exclaimed, 'Wow, did you see that!' as it almost sauntered, loped off the road and into the scrub." Mr and Mrs West said the beast had definite stripes around its tail area. It was tan in colour and the stripes darker. "We weren't imagining it. I can still see it in my mind's eye. It was maybe two feet tall and not at all like a dog. There wasn't much hair. It looked almost bald.
"The stripes were the arresting thing. We immediately thought 'Tasmanian Tlger" Only two-and-a-half months ago Nell and Sherie Noble, of Buderim, both saw a beast in daylight but on separate days. Mrs Noble saw it first as she walked through a nearby bush estate. "It was 20 yards away from me and I thought, 'My God, this Is a half kangaroo-half dog'. Its tail was long and skinny, its hindquarters very high and its head almost kangarooish. Yet it was neither animal." She didn't tell her husband about the sighting and less than a fortnight later while he was fixing his roof he saw the beast below him on the road.
"It was definitely a wild animal, very very nervous and looking everywhere. I didn't see obvious stripes but then he was mangy and hungrylooking. He looked starved. "But I now am absolutely certain cither we saw a Tasmanian Tiger or a Queensland marsupial cat which used to be around here more than 20 years ago. Maybe the female has the stripes and the male doesn't, or vice versa." The beast seems to have been extending his hunting domain. Three months ago Jennifer Morgan, 45, of Nanango, saw a striped beast around 7pm as she was driving from Yarraman. "It was eating something dead in the middle of the road," she said. The sighting brings the tally up to more than 15 in the region in the past 8 years. (The Sunday Mail p14 25/06/1995.)
19950618 - Beast of Buderim - By Toni McCRAE
Is it a dog? Is it a fox? ls it a figinent of the imagination? Or is it the elusive Tasmanian tiger, missing, presumed extinct? Some Sunshine Coast residents are convinced that the tiger maybe roaming hinterland hills.At least eight sightings in recent years of a mysterious striped dog-like animal have raised hopes that Thylacine cynocephalus is alive and well in Queensland. Although it is known as the Tasmanian tiger, Aboriginal rock paintings on the mainland indicate it roamed there, too, 3000 years ago. It was later confined to Tasmania but the last sitting was more than 50 years ago. It has caused as much excitement on the Sunshine Coast as the recent reported sightings of a crocodile in Pumicestone Passage did among Bribie Islanders.
Experts claim the Passage is too cold for crocs but four residents reported independent sightings. one was ex-policeman Bill AMP, of Banksia Beach, who said the 1.5 metre log in his path as he walked his dog turned out to be a croc.
The most recent sighting of the Sunshine Coast tiger suspect was reported by Buderim dentist Dr Lance Mesh, 56, when be was driving along the southern, slopes of the Buderim rainforest one evening with his daughter Samantha 10. "It was striped and like a combination of a goldy, brindly cat and dog," he said. "It was medium-sized and had: prominent bump above the eyes. "My headlights froze him, he arched his bach and crouched before running off the road into the rainforest. I couldn't believe it. For a moment I thought someone had painted a strange-looking dog with stripes."
The description matched that of a strange looking creature seen by residents in other parts of the coast. (The Sunday Mail 18/06/1995 p10.)
19950101 - SUNSHINE COAST HERITAGE - SETTLEMENT DESTROYS STRANGE ANIMALS OF THE PAST Stan TUTT p282
PERHAPS, in remote forest gorges of the Conondale Ranges or the Gheerulla Mountains, a few specimens of the nalivwe Tiger Cat have survived the assault of the chainsaw and the bulldozer. Other Queensland districts have their stories of strange animals which were sighted in the bush — tlhe 'yowie', 'black leopards' and mysterious predators which attacked calves and domestic dogs. Mystery creatures which set pioneer districts buzzing with stories of wild excitement. Such strange creatures could have been shot or traspped by bushme, yet were never described or photographed... The clearing of schrubs and forests wiped the old life from the land like chalk from the school sblackboard, removing all chance of fully proving or disproving the stories and legends which lived, for a few brief years, around night-time campfires.
In his story of early Tuchekoi, Eric Howard of Maleny recalled, "There were Tiger Cats in Mount Tuchekoi in 1923. Tlie fowl pen at Perkin's place near the mountain had corrugated iron sides sunk about a foot into the ground lo keep the tiger cats from the fowls." These were the big native tiger cats, not the small spotted quolls. Photographs of this creature are rare indeed. 'Mac' Pearce of Noosaville, grandson of pioneer settlers of Mount Mee who came to the lower Kenilworth district in the early 1900s, had such a photograph - ver small yet clear. SUNSHINE COAST HERITAGE - SETTLEMENT DESTROYS STRANGE ANIMALS OF THE PAST Stan TUTT p282
Tiger Cat Kenilworth 1953 (Photo Mac Pearce courtesy Steve Rushton) Note:- 4 litre drum under Tiger Cat's mouth
It was dawn, at Tarnagulla, near Maryborough. Dennis Wright had spent most of his life In the bush, but nothing could prepare him for what he was about to see. For 20 minutes he followed what he thought was a panther along the banks of the Loddon River. "I got within 20 metres and with a telescopic sight. I could tell straight away it wasn't, any kind of cat," 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."
Dennis is convinced that the Grampians Puma ..................... "Usually people don't get as close as I did and they think it's a big cat. Dennis said,
He says it sounds like a Tasmanian Devil. Many others have compared the noise of the mystery animal to the haunting sounds of the Devil.
Dennis was to see the animal a second time, about eight years ago at Reedy Creek. This time he was with four witnesses. It was sitting on its haunches like a kangaroo, but it didn't look like a kangaroo. We fired ............. (The copy of the article ends). (The Courier Ballarat Wednesday 30/11/1994 page 6.)
19941124 - REPORTED PUMA SIGHTINGS - The Courier, Ballarat, Thursday November, 24, 1994
•1942/43: US airmen supposedly let a puma and her cubs loose in the Grampians.
•1972: Western district farmer Ted Saligari reveals that he has been tracking pumas In the area for three years and had spoken to many people who had reported seeing the animals. Horsham CIB take plaster casts of mystery footprints and the Federal Government starts researching the sightings; other researchers get Involved. A lion park proprietor offers a $1000 reward for a puma "dead or alive".
•1973: Several farmers report sighting pumas.
•1974: A group of Horsham people claim to have chased a puma near the Black Range and a Horsham postal officer says he saw a puma on a local country road.
•1975: An English couple holidaying In the Grampians report seeing a "black lion".
•1976: A farmer blames a puma for lamb killings, a mystery animal is seen on the Henty Highway; two forestry workers reveal they saw two pumas on the hinhwnv in 1972. ................. begins tracking pumas and three men see a mystery animal near Natimuk. Three Melbourne women believe they saw a black puma-like animal between Reeds Lockout and Halls Gap.
•1979: Ararat businessman Noel Lovell, while flying his glider, spots two pumas sunning themselves on rocks near Dadswell Bridge.
•1983: A Bulart farmer says he saw a "mountain lion" near the Dundas Range.
•1984: A puma is seen chasing an emu along a dirt road near Black Range, a Stawell landowner spots a black puma-like animal carrying a lamb across his property. He is amazed at how fast it moves.
•1985: A carload of Melton people report seeing a black puma-like animal in the Grampians; a woman is terrified by a high-pitched screeching noise from a mystery animal at Lemon Springs, south of Kaniva.
•1986: Several Wimmera people report seeing a puma in lhe Mount Talbot area. (The Courier, Ballarat, Thursday 24/11/1994 page 2)
19941110 - Big cats have wide credibility - By Tom Carey
As a frequent visitor to South Gippsland since the early 1970s one of the most fascinating stories arising from time to time was of a mysterious animal that roamed the forest and its fringes In the predominantly dairy farming country around Yarram. Local farmers of the area from Hiawatha, Binginwarri, Devon, Wron Wron, Woodside, Jack River, Tarraville, Alberton and McLachlan's Beach who met at Yarram. Welshpool and Port Albert pubs for their lunchtime session - they were all milking in the 'mornings and evenings and were all aware of a strange creature that occasionally encroached on their farms.
Only a few had seen anything, yet, despite their rugged rural practicality and healthy skepticism it was surprising to find it was not merely a legend but something they believed to a man was real.
Sightings were, unfortunately intermittent. Some had seen a large animal in their headlights on late night trips through-forest roads, including the Sale-Yarram highway, but it disappeared so quickly in most cases the viewer began to doubt his sanity. Some of them who saw the Tarra Valley panther were highly respected men in the district - one who was said to have seen it just before dawn squatting on a front gate post on his properly between Wron Wron and Thorpdale was the prominent Victorian farmers' and graziers' board member Bill Bodman, but the thing had disappeared by he time he moved to his verandah to get a better view. Sightings were never viewed with skepticism because, according to the farmers, there had been irrefutable evidence found several times of stock and wildlife killings that could only have been done by something other than a domestic dog or cat or any known native predator.
Large calf Skeletons and the remains of wallabies and kangaroos had, for instance, been found in the forks of trees at a level well above floodline, and, in any case, at times on land which never flooded.
The carcasses had to have been hauled there by some large, very strong, climbing animal. There was almost unanimous agreement the animal - or animals, some were of the opinion there was probably a small family of the species - was a type of large cat.
Extremely stealthy and timid, so that it was hardly ever seen, and when seen never heard, adding to its mystery, it was believed by most to have originated from the introduction of puma kittens by American soldiers during World War Two.
Although the Gippsland beast is not mentioned in it animal mystery researchers Paul Cropper and Tony Healy have written an entertaining study of Australia's better known legends, like the Yowie, various water monsters, hairy apes, various wild cats and semi-extinct animals that roam the more remote regions.
Cropper and Healy have researched their subject for more than 20 years and analyse their evidence with healthy skepticism and open minds, leaving final conclusions to the reader. There seems little doubt that in many cases, like in south Gippsland. Some sort of animals do exist, but some of the weirder experiences related must be treated with suspicion. Even with some of these, however, there may be scientific explanations of the apparently paranormal
Whatever your conclusions "Out of the Shadows" by Tony Healy and Paul Cropper, published by Ironbark Press. RRP $19.95 is certainly entertaining reading. But don't lake it camping! (Big cats have wide credibility by Tom Carey Shepparton Adviser 11/10/1994 page unknown)
19941014 - Panther sighting - Kyneton Guardian
Residents of Clydesdale have been warned to lock up their pets at night after a reported sighting of a black panther-like creature.
Apparently a local man saw the elusive cat earlier this week in his backyard.
We'll keep you informed of any other sightings as we hear of them. (Kyneton - [Vic] - Guardian 14/10/1994 [page unknown)
19940201 - Tassie tiger sighting? - SOUTH GIPPSLAND - SENTINEL TIMES - Tuesday 010/2/1994
A Korurnburra man claims he saw a Tasmanian Tiger-like animal at Outtrim last week.
Karurnburra pensioner and former truck driver, Les Wyhoon, was ferreting, for rabbits at Outtrim last Tuesday morning when he saw the rnysterious creatlure.
"It was loo big to be a rabbit, it was definiitely not a dog, and it had black stripes with a short bobbed tail." Mr Wyhoon said yesterday (Monday).
Mr Wyhoon said the animal stood about two feet high, and was ginger in color. Mr Wyhoon said he and a Korumburra mate, saw the animal at Bob McDowell's farm property. "I've been ferreting all my life and I know what a fox looks like," he said.
"It had me buggered with that bobbed tail. "It was a great shock," he said. Mr Wyhoon, who has driven trucks all over South Gippsland, had never before seen anything like it. As the men got closer, tha animal vanished into nearby bush. (SOUTH GIPPSLAND - SENTINEL TIMES - Tuesday 010/2/1994 page unknown)
19930618 - Local printer claims he saw "the cat" - The Advertiser Friday June 18 1993 page 3
A Maryborough man claims to have twice seen a huge black puma-like animal in State forest close to Maryborough. The man has lived in Maryborough all his life and is employed by a large printing industry in the city. He claims to have seen a shiny, black animal with a body length between 1.5 and two metres.
The animal had a long, thick black tail with a distinct upwards sweep at the end. The man claims that the animal seemed to "melt" back into the forest when it realised it was being observed. - He claims the escape movement was totally different to a wallabie, which bounds away when disturbed. The importance of the sighting is that it is close to one of the most important areas known to researchers of "big cat" reports, because:
• The area is within five kilometres of Maryborough.
• The sightings are adjacent to a paddock from where the famous Hannan footprint was taken. In that instance, The Advertiser poured a plastercast into a footprint found by local man, Russell Hannan. This print was later shown by the chief ecologist at Melbourne Zoo, Graham George, when he appeared on the ABC's 7.30 Report. Mr George said it was the Hannan print which convinced him of the probability that feral pumas existed in the Maryborough region.
• The area is where many people have claimed to have seen big cats, including two local families on a nocturnal nature drive one summer night in the late 1980s.
Researchers believe that there is a perimeter which goes from the Glenmona forest, along the forest adjacent to the Pyrenees Highway to near Maryborough, and back towards Amherst. Black cats are frequently reported from alongside that perimeter, and stock are often taken along it.(The Advertiser Friday 11/06/1993 page 3)
19930101 - Mystery of the pumas - North & Central News
The mystery of the large cats, believed to be pumas, living in the mountains, rivers and rugged country in Victoria still continues.
The Editor of N.C.N. was recently interviewed on A.B.C. Sunday morning radio on the subject and from the spate of letters and phone calls from all over Victoria that followed a large number of people have had sightings of the animals. There is a pattern across the state in mountains and rugged country, right through to Gippsland of the existence of a large cat species which is simply not supposed to be there.
One striking feature of the response was from farmers with experiences of animals killed, and some who had sighted the animal. Young deer were also reported killed in the same manner of a total consumption and only the clean skin remaining. There is undoubtedly a conspiracy of silence amongst those who have seen or had other evidence, in not reporting it, widely for fear of hunting parties descending en masse "as in the duck season" some said!
There is also the fear of ridicule, which is now passing, as more people see the animals. Another common statement was that the animal was so beautiful, and the sense of unreality that it was there.
N.C.N. is fully aware that a sizable number of St. Arnaud and district citizens have, over the past ten years had sighlings in the bush or along the Avoca river or creeks in isolated areas.
Our latest report was of an unmistakable footprint in a creek bed near Tamagulla in February by a young Federal Policeman who was gold detecting during his holidays.
We have had several reports from local residents in this area of sightings. There is some concern at what native life may be suffering and there is evidence that a wombat colony in one part of the state has been wiped out, and skins have been found similar to sheep skins, totally cleaned out.
When one is eventually shot or photographed and the existence of these mystery big cats is established officially, there will no doubt be many issues to face. Meanwhile, they remain to the unbelievers, a figment of the imagination, but to others who have encountered them, a reality with which we will have to come to terms eventually.
Meanwhile, we subscribe to the conspiracy of silence amongst ourselves for the very good reasons that we do not want an invasion of shooters in bush and farmlands. (Mystery of the pumas - North & Central News 1993 page unknown.)
19810101 - The Black Panther
Many more Torrington and Emmaville residents have reported sightings of a black panther-like creature over the years, than have reported the "Yowie".
"One sighting was by a local resident and his wife while driving into town. It was on the road, right in front of them. They described it as being "brown/ black, almost 3 or 4 feet high with a huge head and thick legs and with tapered off hindquarters, like something a child would draw, slightly out of proportion"
Some residents in the area north of Torrington, when camping in an old shearing shed during 1969, heard terrible growling and "pig squealing" noises at night. Large cat footprints in the sand and the remains of kangaroos freshly killed and eaten, with the bones having been crushed with remarkable force, were found the next morning.
During the same year another couple in this area heard terrible growling noises outside their house. Their little dog was normally very keen on going hunting, but this night, "she had the wind up and all her bristles up, but she wouldn't go outside".
Sheep have been reported being killed and one report was of a horse that had died after having its neck ripped open. Another incident was of a domestic dog that had been killed while chained in its kennel.
Once again, sound theories have been put forward. Perhaps a large feral cat, a wild pig, or maybe as many people do believe, a black panther. ( Old Torrington A History of Torrington and District 1881 – 1981, Examiner Printing Service, Glen Innes, 1981, p 86)
Last updated 27/11/05