Western Australia Big cats

Post and Photo courtesy of Darren Monks. Thank you Darren.

Mate i've known for years (well known in WA fishing circles) sent me this report (occured mid 2011):

"While camping near a well know public dam in the Darling Scarp of WA with my two young boys (including 2 of their friends so four boys in total) decided to play in the river and have a mud fight, lots of noise and yelling so me and the kelpie dog decided to go for a wander along the river.
 A still night followed with no wind and the kids all went to sleep in the tent whilst the dog and I slept in the back of the car with the boot down. The occasional roo could be heard heading off to the river for a drink but apart from that no noise at all, pin-drop quiet.
About 2.30 am the dog and I sat up as we could hear the roos busting through the fence up-river, obviously startled by something but a min later there was silence so drifted back off to sleep.
Next morning went for a walk up river to see if there are any pigs about and came across a freshly killed joey about 400 meters from camp. You have a look at the pics (see above)but this is very strange. Head, ribs on one side, heart, lungs all eaten, intestines pulled out and the kidneys eaten from the cavity. No blood and no sign of a struggle. Not a fox as the volume eaten meant it would have been a fox bigger than my kelpie to devour all that. No sign of dogs about and very clean, no fur ripped around the area. Joey was about a year old and big enough to give even a dog a run for its money if tackled.
Needless to say the next night I kept the kids close to camp and didn't sleep very well.
What did it"??
bit more context, carcass not there the late afternoon before.
def'n happened (kill/feed) overnight.human involvement almsot impossible (illegal spotlighters having to drive through and shoot near camp with alert sober dad asleep in open backed 4WD with kelpie alongside who blots at a gunshot etc).wild dogs/dinoges long gone to my knowlwedge this beef area coastal side of scarp.
plenty of foxes and pigs and possible rare young wedgie?
crows hadn't even had time to find the carcass."


From Shane ######, former Fish/Willdflife (CALM - DEC) officer Nannup in 80's:

"Here's what I know about big black cats in WA.

I have alluded to the fact that myself and other CALM Officers have reported officially in writing to the CALM department that we have seen panther like animals in the forest with our own eyes.

Also it is not just myself and another Nannup CALM employee making such reports. Reports were coming in at the same time from Manjimup District CALM Officers of similar reports.

Myself over the 8 years I was the local Wildlife Officer for Nannup logged a few more than the 64 reports for Thylacines.

I recall one reported sighting well - a Canadian Tourist - had been driving a rented 4wd along Jacks Track on the Scott River plain east of Augusta, between the De Entrecasteaux Nat park Boundary and private property cleared for cattle grazing when he reportedly saw a large black Panther cross the track in front of him.

Being familiar with Cougar from his home country Canada - he was insistent that he knew damn well what he had seen. I found it hard not to believe him. That particular report stuck in my memory, he was eminently believable - the reason he stopped to report it at my CALM Office was that he didn't believe we had such large wild cats in this country and I was able to confirm for him, that supposedly we didn't.

In later years, I was out early one morning in winter - a clear day and a 6 am start so still almost dark.

I remember that it was number 2 logging road in a Bunnings coup at the top of the Bridgetown hill out of Nannup on the way to Bridgetown...on the northern side of the main road.

There were 4 of us (Foresters from the Nannup Office), and one of us was behind on his tree marking, for the Bunnings logging crews.

If the habitat trees and seed trees weren't marked and the Bunnings logging crew ran out of trees in the adjacent coup - they would move in and just fall everything - so 3 of us volunteered to start early and give him a hand to catch up with his tree marking ahead of the logging crews.

I had marked a few acres - as had the other 3, and it was maybe 7 or 7.30 by now clear sky day, and the 4 of us met back on the gravel logging road.

One of us walked back to the 4wd (Mike), who as it happened had his dog Cecil with him... Cess jumped up in the back of the 4wd dual cab ute, Mike hopped in and started it up - and was going to move it UP the road a bit further so when we marked the next few acres we would come back out onto the road and the ute would still be near us to get in it and go back to the office.

Just as he got to the ute, and as the dog hopped in the back - I was standing with the 2 other officers passing the time of day talking while we waited for Mike to shift the ute.

I was the only one actually watching Mike and the dog and the ute. The other 2 were facing the wrong way to see hat happened next.

I heard a chainsaw start up over the hill from us in the adjacent logging coup - the Bunnings crew had obviously just arrived for work for the day and the first faller had just started up his big Stihl chainsaw for the first tree of the day.

As I heard the noise I looked up the hill behind us that had recently been logged so you could see pretty much all the way to the ridge...and I clearly saw a BIG black panther like animal running fast down the hill over all the recently logged branches / crowns and stumps...

It honestly flowed like water over a rock as it ran.....it was so smooth and graceful over what was incredibly difficult terrain...

It ran down the slope and across the gravel logging road about 6 feet in front of the 4wd that Mike had just hopped into and was starting it up.

He saw it right in front of him - closer than me - BUT he didn't see it come all the way down from the top of the hill, - just momentarily as it ran across the road in a brief flash, whereas i saw it for maybe 100 yards or more including the road crossing.

The 2 Foresters standing with me, didn't see it at all.

Here's the weird thing, Cecil the dog LOVES to chase cats (the family pussy cat variety), but although he was in the back of the ute and had his paws up on the cab and seemed to me at least to be looking thru the rear and front windscreen of the 4wd ute gave absolutely no indication of having seen it at all.

Mike moved the ute up past us ready to mark the next trees and then walked back to the 3 of us waiting. I could see the look on his face.

I said to him - "did you just see what I just saw?" And he replied - "well yeah, bloody oath I did - if you just saw what I just saw- what did you see?"

Then the other 2 are looking at us both and asking - well what did you see?

Neither of us wanted to be the FIRST one to say - we had seen a big black panther...because the other 2 hadn't seen it, and it was de - rigour to take the Michael out of each other at work to keep up moral.... we didn't want to willingly become the next laughing stock at work for the next few weeks up the back at the stubby club.

So the two of us agreed after much, "you tell them", "no you tell them first" back n fro we agreed to blurt it out together.

"We had each seen a big black panther"...

The eyes on the other two went like saucers (then the obvious piss taking started).

At my suggestion - we took Cecil the dog along the track toward the ute to where I reckoned the big cat crossed the gravel road.

Sure enough - in the wet clay of the road - was a big cat paw print.

We tried for all we were worth to get Cecil the dog interested in this fresh new big paw print of the big cat he obviously hadn't seen... and despite our efforts he showed absolutely not the slightest bit of interest.

I knew from my reading of US hunters who shot cougar that they have small lung capacity when chased by a pack of dogs will typically go straight up the nearest tree.

I also knew we had a departmental shotgun back at the office in the gun safe and I had the keys since i was in charge of the departmental firearms.

I was hoping beyond all hope, that where the big cat crossed the road was a big swamp and that if only we could get Cecil to tree the big cat, where he had a half a chance in relatively open ground if you don't count all the swamp grass... that if he could tree the cat and a couple of us stayed with the dog and kept it up a tree - one of us could drive for the office and get the shotgun and maybe we could shoot it outta the tree to take back as proof of what we had seen.... (and then NOT be the laughing stock of our work colleagues at the stubby club for the next few weeks - so you can see the incentive was pretty high).

For reasons I will never understand, Cecil the dog - (maybe he was a LOT smarter than we ever gave him credit for) just would NOT show ANY interest at ALL in the fresh track on the road or in entering the swamp to chase this big cat that he hadn't seen with his own eyes.

There went that plan... No Cecile to tree the cat, I sure wasn't running off into the swamp to try and do it on my own...(and neither was any of the other 3 I might add).

So back to tree marking we went... and a few hours later with it all done it was back to the office and a change into dry warm clothes...and fill in the official sighting reports - both of us corroborating each others story, suddenly the powers that be had no way to be able to dismiss it.

When word got to Manjimup CALM - and head office was taking it seriously - their officers then started coming forward with similar reports also.


I got the "task"of doing the research for the departmental file about how big cats come to be in our southwest forests."