Strange encounters of the panther kind
Australian Big Cats – www.australian-big-cats
The mystery of a colossal cat seen roaming the region began to unravel last week as residents reported more panther sightings to the Macarthur Chronicle.
Wedderburn resident Ted Lalor, 70, said he and a neighbour saw a panther near their homes six months ago.
"The boys in Appin who saw the panther last week were fair dinkum," he said.
"I've shot feral cats before and there's no way a cat could grow to the size of the animal I'm talking about. Eventually someone will knock off one of these creatures, then people will finally believe they exist."
Two people who won't need much convincing are teenagers Emilly and Karrine.
Emilly said she saw the creature while riding her horse at Sugarloaf Horse Centre in Menangle.
"The first time I saw the panther, it chased me on my horse," she said.
"But I've seen it other times and it just hangs around then goes back into the bush. My friend Karrine told me she saw the same thing."
Other reports included Kelly, 29, who saw the big cat near the Broughton Pass in Appin, and Dale Shackleton who recalled a panther terrorising his Appin farm and the Inghams chicken sheds more than 30 years ago.
Cryptozoologist Mike Williams said scientists believed a breed of big cat existed in Australia but they were unsure whether it was a mutated feral cat, native, or an exotic cat, like a panther.
"There is something out there," he said. "Where there's smoke, there's fire. People don't just wake up in the morning with an urge to say they have seen a panther."
Mr Williams said big cats were among the best animals when it came to camouflage and were largely nocturnal.
"That humans see these creatures is not amazing - what is amazing is that we see them at all," he said.