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Australian Big Cats. Not so Alien?

Just on dusk on New Year’s Eve 2012, Trevor, from Stanwell Park. a small coastal town nestled on the southern fringes of Sydney’s Royal National Park, was going for a quiet walk through the nearby bush. He had walked this bush track many times before. But this time, in fading light, Trevor’s attention was suddenly drawn to a large animal perched in the undergrowth just metres from him off the track. Whatever was lurking there in the undergrowth, it was not any of the animals known to inhabit the area – an area which is very familiar territory to Trevor. 

Trevor described to me what he saw lurking in the undergrowth just metres from where he stood.

“The only brief view of the black profile in the low light of twilight shadows … resembled Mike Tyson the boxer – a big head blending into big shoulders about the width of a human, no neck,” he said.

pantherpouncing

From the position of the creature, and due to the low light, Trevor couldn’t see the animal’s tail or eyes. To Trevor, the creature also appeared all black with no markings visible whatsoever.

“It was facing me, raised itself to about one metre above ground, and one-third of a metre above the bush. It was just a hop, step, and a jump from me … and if it were hunting, I would be dead now, not hearing anything until it landed on me… my lucky day!”

Trevor also heard the animal “roar” at him. “I have since matched [the roar] on You Tube to a similar roar of a leopard in a cage being fed, roaring at the handlers to leave it alone to eat in peace.”

Trevor’s unnerving experience with a so-called Alien Big Cat in the bushy environs of Sydney’s outskirts is certainly not all that out of the ordinary.

In January 2005, Andrew Prentice from Grose Vale, to the north west of Sydney, recounted his sighting of an Alien Big Cat to The Sun-Herald on 27 February.

Pantherroar

“I was up for work, daylight had just broken … I opened up the curtains and, as I did so, I noticed this large black animal come out from the side of my dam. It walked up to the high side of the driveway. I looked at it in utter disbelief. I looked again and again. It was at least a metre long, it had a tail that was dragging down to the ground. But what really stood out was the way it walked. It was sly and it was slinky. It stopped, turned, gave a quick look towards the house and then strolled out of view. The rumours, for me, had all of a sudden come true. The thought of a camera never even came into play. I just kept thinking, this is bloody unbelievable.”

Andrew’s sighting was just one of hundreds of similar reports in the area going back many years.

Back in 2003, a New South Wales State Government inquiry into the “black panther phenomenon” concluded that “more likely than not a colony of ‘big cats’ is roaming Sydney’s outskirts”. One National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) official stated that: “While we still haven’t got conclusive evidence that the creature exists, compiled evidence points strongly to the fact that it does.” And an expert on big cats involved in the inquiry, Dr Johannes Bauer, concluded that: “Difficult as it seems to accept, the most likely explanation of the evidence … is the presence of a large feline predator.”

GI’s Mascots Set Free?

So, if big cats are prowling the remote bushland surrounding the modern metropolis of Sydney, as well as many other places throughout Australia, the logical question is: “What are these Alien Big Cats …. and how did they get here?”

One prevailing theory for Alien Big Cats living in the Australian bush is that they are the offspring of mascots brought here by American forces during the Second World War and released into the wilds when the GIs packed up and left for home.

But reports of big cats go back many years prior to hostilities erupting across Europe and the Pacific in the 1940s.

Big Cats in the 1930s

weird australia bookDuring the 1930s, for example, sightings of Alien Big Cats were reported right across Victoria’s Gippsland district.

On 30 October 1933, the Gippsland Times reported that a “big fawn-coloured, cat-like beast” had been spotted roaming the Gippsland ranges for the past 12 months.

“The mystery of an unknown animal, said to have been seen in different parts of the Gippsland ranges during the past 12 months, has been deepened by a report made on Monday by a Trafalgar farmer. He says he has seen a big fawn-coloured, cat-like beast roaming in the rugged outback country of Gunyah. The farmer, Mr. George Siggins, and his two sons, all experienced bushmen, believe the animal is a lioness, or something like it.”

Then, on 20 January 1934, The Argus reported that a man was stalked by a mystery big cat in the bush around Gunyah.

“Mr. R. Le Plastrier of Gunyah met the mystery animal of the Gunyah bush late on Wednesday night. He was passing through Mr. G. Smith’s property … when a large tawny-coloured animal leaped on to a log.

“Mr. Le Plastrier said that he could see two large green eyes glaring at him. He hurried to the road, and the beast, after following him for a time, bounded into the bush, from which it stalked him for 300 yards. Mr. Le Plastrier carried a gun, but did not use it for fear he might only wound the beast and possibly be attacked.”

Here we have sightings almost a decade before the German Blitzkrieg of Poland and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, so does this rule out the Soldier’s Mascot theory?

Even Earlier Big Cat Sightings

An even earlier big cat report, of a well-respected schoolteacher being stalked at night and in fear of his life, occurred way back in 1903 according to the Queanbeyan Age of 11 March.

“The tiger, which must have been crouching behind a bush, came bounding at me with gaping mouth, and eyes which glared like bull’s-eye lanterns.”

“He made about four bounds, growling fiercely all the time, and before I could scarcely realise my position, let alone gather up my reins, the horse was at a mad gallop down the road.

After the frightened horse skidded into a gate and barrelled through it, the witness, after regaining control of his horse, looked back. “I could clearly see the flaming eyes of the tiger, and, although feeling pretty certain he had given up the chase, my hair was up and my blood cold, for I suppose both my horse and self had mild panic.”

panther-on-rock

According to the Hawkesbury Herald, it was speculated that this particular big cat was an escaped pet … brought home by an Australian soldier after serving in South Africa during the Boer War of 1899 – 1902.

“We have received private and confidential advice from a friendly correspondent which clears up the mystery of the Marulan tiger,” the paper confidently proclaimed.

“An officer had brought a young leopard back with him from South Africa, and went to stay with a friend in the district. He took his pet with him, but the latter escaped, and has since amused itself by chasing peaceable citizens and otherwise harrowing the feelings of the people of Marulan.

“The owner, with visions of a huge bill of expenses for ‘moral and intellectual damage,’ is lying very low, and keeps on saying nothing. He hopes nobody ever saw him with the leopard in his possession. This is said to be the explanation of the Marulan mystery.”

Is this not only the “explanation of the Marulan mystery” but also the explanation for Alien Big Cat sightings in Australia? Could all the sightings be escaped pets, circus animals or mascots set free following the end of hostilities?

Or, as some Australian big cat researchers believe, are there native species that have long inhabited the Australian bush, but have thus far cunningly evaded scientific detection?

The Gundungurra people of the Blue Mountains have a Dreamtime story involving Mirragan, the Fisherman, a tiger-cat renowned for catching only the largest fish.

With sightings in Australia so widespread, and reaching back so many years, perhaps Alien Big Cats aren’t so alien to the Australian bush after all.

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Andrew Nicholson is an author whose articles have been featured on sites like The Anomalist, Mysterious Universe, paranormal.about.com and weirdaustralia.com — the latter of which he created himself. His articles have been linked to from popular sites such as Cryptomundo, jimharold.com and Coast to Coast AM. He's also written the book "Weird Australia: Real Reports of Uncanny Creatures, Strange Sightings & Extraordinary Encounters".
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