Don’t know about you but we’re heading down to the Gong on a stakeout.
We’re gonna catch us a black panther.
You see, a Wollongong councillor with the crackerjack name Bede Crasnich has offered to pay $5000 to anyone who can show him a panther caught in the Wollongong-Illawarra region.
The big cat must be captured alive and unharmed, Bede declared.
“It has to be a jungle cat. It has to have cougar, panther or any sort of exotic cat in its genome,” he said.
“If it’s just a big feral cat that’s gone through a bit of living, I’m not interested.”
We hope Bede is kidding because trying to catch a panther wouldn’t be the smartest move. Even we know that.
Just to be crystal clear, Topics does not condone any panther-catching activities.
If you try to catch a panther, you’re going to annoy them. Plus, they have sharp claws and teeth.
Vaughan King, founder of the Australian Big Cat Research Group, told us recently that it wasn’t a good idea to hunt panthers.
Most so-called 'man-eating' leopards and tigers attacked humans due to being sick or injured by a failed hunt, Vaughan said.
“This is why it is important to note that hunting these animals should not be an option. It’s when these animals are injured by a wayward bullet that they start to target humans as prey.
“They are naturally wary, elusive and will almost always run when they are noticed.”
Many people probably find it hard to believe that panthers exist in Australia. We would have been among them. But since we’ve been writing about panther sightings in the Hunter, dozens of people have reported seeing them in our region.
Readers on the Herald’s Facebook page reported sightings at places including Mount Sugarloaf, Minmi, Wallsend, Munmorah, Swansea, Morisset, Wyee, Freemans Waterhole, Kurri Kurri, Cessnock, Dungog, Singleton, the Watagan Mountains, Medowie and Stroud.
As for the $5000 bounty, the Herald’s Facebook readers were none too impressed.
Kevin Wyborn: “5k, tell him he's dreaming! I'd want a few million to do that”.
Amanda Playford: “My life is worth more than $5k”.
West Lindsay: “Geez! How much would he pay for a bunyip or a yowie?”
Wowie it’s a Yowie
Speaking of yowies, we’ve been writing about them a bit lately too.
You know how it is. One mystery leads to another – Tassie tigers, black panthers, bunyips, yowies.
We reported Rex Gilroy’s story about his wife Heather seeing a yowie in the Barrington Tops.
Rex then found a suspected yowie footprint. He took a plaster-cast of it, which was 38cm long and 16cm wide across the toes.
Yowie sightings have also been reported on the south coast. A newspaper called the Eden Magnet reported on the subject last Thursday.
Mark Downton, of Cooma, said he would never forget his encounter with a “strange creature” while travelling down Brown Mountain on his way back to Eden about 25 years ago.
The now 54-year-old said his yowie sighting was burned into his memory.
“Truthfully I am not scared of much but that was the most scary thing I have come across in my life,” Mr Downton said.
He described a five-and-a-half foot tall creature with broad shoulders standing on two legs. He said it was completely black and covered in hair, “like a gorilla”.
“I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t move. I was frozen on the spot. It was only 15 feet away and it was looking right at us,” he said.
“It wasn’t a human being, I know that much for sure.”
Sightings of these creatures, dubbed the “Gorillas of Eden” had occurred throughout the 20th century.
In the mid ‘90s, resident Maria Speer spotted a creature more than two metres tall.
She was about six kilometres south of Eden.
“It was brown, thickset and short-necked with powerful, solid shoulders,” she said.
“It was standing on two legs and, when it saw me, it crashed off into the bush. My impression was that I had seen a powerful man-like creature. America’s Bigfoot would be an identical type.”