Let me introduce myself and give you a bit of background. My name is John ###### and I am originally from North Carolina in the United States.
I spent my last ten years in North Carolina following up on sitings in North Carolina and in addition to seeing a large male cross the road in front of me, I came up on a kill, a deer that was ripped in half after having its throat slashed. The half a deer was 5 meters up in a tree while the leopard was in a dead end with the other half. I will never stop kicking myself in the ass for not going in after that leopard.
Michael, in America we have records of these cats being killed as much as 300 years earlier. While some of them could have come over on slave ships which is a bit improbable, I know that others were in America when it was attached to Africa, Europe and Asia. It is a proven fact that a type of leopard exists in Africa and Asia and I believe in America, so my guess is being as adaptable a cat as the leopard is it is more or less native to Australia.
As for being interbred with a cougar it is not likely. I have stood at the base of a tree and had a 73 Kilo female cougar looking down on me. While cougars have only 2 cubs at most and have only spots on their underside as immature adults or cubs, melanistic leopards are charcoal grey with black spots. I also have had reports of individuals with 4 cubs, something only seen in leopards.
I know I can not only photograph a big cat but I would like to take one alive, then there would be no arguement. Having seen the reports of big cat sitings I believe the leopards are mainly in the Blue Mountains national park. I would suggest in addition to doing a survey in the park for clawed trees and piles of dirt and sticks where it has covered its scat, to use dogs trained to track leopards. I would also suggest using predator scent and live bait such as a young goat or lamb in a double cage so I could trap the leopard but spare the bait.
Please advise me of your work in the area and share your thoughts with me.