A tourist has reported seeing what he believes was a black panther on a bush track south of Broulee early last month.
Wadonga resident Mark Nuggin, 21, was holidaying at Tomakin and was taking a walk with his mother and brother south of South Broulee Beach at about 3.30pm on March 3 when the incident occurred.
“We were walking across a sand motocross track when I saw it,” Mr Nuggin said.
“It was massive, like a black panther. I was terrified.”
He said the animal jumped onto the track and then ran off, and that he saw the side of its face, and it looked cat-like.
Mr Nuggin’s mother and brother were walking about three metres behind him and did not see the animal.
“They could see I was shaken up, and it was hard to convince them of what I had seen,” he said.
“It was solid and had ridiculously big back legs.”
They had a camera and, although they didn’t get the chance to photograph the animal, they got a photo purporting to be one of its paw prints.
Mr Nuggin said he had always been cynical when hearing about big cat sightings in the past.
“I would never have believed this before,” he said. “I have thought about what else it could have been, like a dog or kangaroo, and it wasn’t either of them. I have walked in this area many times before, and I have seen eagles and other wildlife, but nothing like this.”
However, upon seeing the paw print photo, Mogo Zoo head keeper Annalie Van Der Merwe believes it is simply a case of mistaken identity.
“I am nearly 100 per cent sure the paw print has been made by a large dog,” she said.
“It is definitely not a big cat.”
ACT-based cryptonaturalist Tim the Yowie Man was in agreeance.
“Due to the claw marks it is extremely unlikely to be a big cat, which is unfortunate, because I would like there to be one down there,” he said.
“Black panther sightings are by far the most common cryptonatural phenomena. There are more sightings of them than yowies, bunyips or UFOs, but there is never any hard evidence.”