Cryptozoology

A particular interest is the study of reported sightings of animals which logic and reason say should not be found in a particular area. In my area of Gippsland, Victoria, Australia, there have been repeated sightings over many years of Thylacines (Tasmanian tigers) which are thought extinct in their native habitat across Bass Strait and big black cats. I have always lived in Gippsland and with 41 years working in the media, including 26 years with the Gippsland Times newspaper, I collected details of many reported sightings and have maintained my interest since.

The big black cat sightings are common throughout Gippsland and it is fair to say that every mainland state of Australia has dozens of sightings reported every year of such "Black Panthers." The big cats are usually described as having bodies about 1.2m long with thick tails almost as long as the body. Non-believers hold the theory that they are feral cats, while others are convinced they are most likely black leopards. To really muddy the waters, we have occasionally had reports of concolor big cats, closely resembling the North American cougar or mountain lion.

I conducted a survey of sightings for the Victorian Farmers' Federation and over a nine month period logged 180 big cat reports. When it comes to Thylacines, the only logical explanation appears to be that the animals were trapped in their native Tasmania in the 19th Century and relocated to coastal Gippsland, perhaps to Wilson's Promontory, a rugged granite peninsular which is the most southern point on the Australian mainland. There is some evidence that the Victorian Acclimatisation Society, a forerunner to the famous Melbourne Zoo, introduced some species from Tasmania and the Bass Strait islands. Tasmanian devils appear to have been introduced to the mainland as shown by a handful of animals being killed by vehicles in Gippsland over the years  - so why not their larger cousins?

The links below take you to some of the cryptozoological reports. Eventually I will expand the Big Black Cat section to record details of some of the more interesting sightings. It will be a chance to record the information and I will generally present it without making judgement on the veracity of the sightings or the mental state of those who made them.

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