I talk about this in the very first episode of the Think Tank segment of the Skeptic Zone (up on iTunes on September 26). Because of time constraints and Richard’s heavy handed editing (kidding) I didn’t get a chance to tell you everything I know about the mystery of the Lithgow Panther. So herein lies everything I know about the Lithgow Panther…

A decades-old myth has raised it’s head again with the suggestion by the Premier of New South Wales, Mr Nathan Rees, that the mythical Lithgow or Penrith Panther may not so mythical after all. Mr Rees made the statement after he was sent a database from a Western-Sydney woman containing approximately 600 testimonials from people claiming to have seen the creature. “I don’t think it’s necessarily an urban myth,” Mr Rees told reporters in Penrith recently. “There are too many people reporting sightings.” It is a turnaround for Mr Rees, who was quoted in August as saying the “black panther is an urban myth”.

“Of particular concern is if there are little kids out there and there actually is one of these things,” Mr Rees said yesterday. “It is easy for all of us to dismiss these things … but if we’re actually wrong then there is an altogether different set of scenarios.”

lithgow_footage_cat-sh

The Elusive Lithgow Panther, allegedly. Notice how cryptozoology footage is always grainy? Suspicious.

Not surprisingly, his statements have thrilled cryptozoologists nationwide, with the most famous, Tim “the Yowie” man welcoming suggestions that the famous black cat may be further investigated. However he also wants the government to investigate other NSW mysteries, including the UFOs of the Central Coast, the Burrawang Bunjip and of course his personal favourite, Yowies. “Mystery big cats aren’t the only mysterious phenomenon in NSW”, he said. Right….

The evidence so far: • March 2003: Kenshurst teenager Luke Walker suffered deep cuts as a result of a struggle with a panther-like cat, NSW government re-opens the case. • Analysis of scat samples deemed to belong to a “large cat” • Numerous sightings from “highly credible” witnesses, including a Qantas pilot and a NSW Police officer. Well then, it must be true. • 600 people post testimonials of sightings on a database (NB: testimonials do not constitute evidence).

This is not the first time calls have been made to investigate the mythical panther. In fact several investigations have already been conducted, both government sponsored and privately funded. Following an attack on a teenage boy by what he reported was a panther-like cat in 2003, an investigation was commenced by NSW Agriculture.

The examination reviewed sightings and conducted interviews with residents from the town of Grose Vale where the creature has been frequently sighted. Whilst no conclusive evidence for the existence of the creature was found the NSW government report concluded that, “…the presence of free-ranging exotic large cats in NSW…cannot be discounted and seems more likely than not, on available evidence”. This was supported by a previous report conducted by veterinarian Dr Keith Hart who concluded a large cat was living in the Grose Vale area following analyses of scat (poo) samples.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CN0xTiz9ns]

Also in 2005, a documentary team commissioned by the Discovery Channel produced an hour long documentary about the possible existence of black panthers (I can’t find a copy of it, so I don’t know the outcome, suffice to say if they had found it, I would not be writing this blog). Further support for the presence of big cats comes from the knowledge that American gold miners brought big cats to the region in the 1850s as did soldiers returning from WWII (they did? What the devil for?).

All this evidence suggests the possibility of the existence of panther-like creatures, but is not conclusive. Testimonials and poo are not really enough evidence, and if so many people have seen these creatures why do we only have one piece of grainy video footage (why is it always grainy?).

Andrew Prentice, a resident of Grose Vale where many of the sightings occur, reported seeing the panther one rainy morning. He told the Sun-Herald, I noticed this large black animal come
out ?of the side of my dam…I looked at it in utter disbelief. I looked again and again…. The thought of a camera never even came into play. I just kept thinking, this is bloody unbelievable”.

The reason it’s unbelievable is because no-one has a good photo of it Andrew! What is it about aliens and monsters that makes us forget to reach for the camera, sheesh.

I asked a Lithgow resident whether she* had ever seen the elusive creature and what was the general feeling amongst locals about their mythical feline friend, to which she responded, “don’t see many locals, they’re all out looking for the panther”. And she was no more impressed with the information that poo samples had been analysed and identified as belonging to a large cat; “yeah? well smells poohy to me”. Hmmm, not a believer I presume. In the meantime, sceptics (also known as sensible people) say the panther sightings are likely nothing more than large feral cats with thick winter coats.

The best thing to come out of yesterdays embarrassment for my mind were the headlines; journalists had a field day. Two of my favourites were; “Lithgow Panther mystery; has Rees but Big Foot in it?” and “Premier sinks claws into mystery”. The final word goes to the opposition leader, Barry O’Farrell who upon hearing Mr Rees’ statement, declared that he was “waiting for Mr Rees to start investigating flying pigs”. I’ll be sure to let you know the outcome of that investigation.

Scepdoll

*Name withheld
Visit http://www.mysteriousaustralia.com/australian_panther_mainpage.html for extensive archived material on the search for the Lithgow Panther.


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  • Anonymous

    i saw it out the window while on the train from blackheath to lithgow. i thought it was a calf at first, it was about the same size, sleek coat, all black, and then i noticed its tail was really long. they are definatly there.

  • Phil

    This true story is a cautionary tale against narrow minded preconceptions. Last weekend I was out horse riding with a friend early on Saturday morning when I had a genuine encounter in the bush, south-west of Sydney. Cantering around a bend in a dirt track I spied a baby rabbit (a kitten). It jumped, startled, and scampered about, unsure where to run. It was at that point something caught my eye. A long black shape darted into the bush from the track. My mind raced. The local paper had published stories of panther sightings. I could see my mug in the newspaper. The Premier shaking my hand. Big game hunting in the suburbs! Then I heard a voice from behind that quashed my fantasies. “Watch where you’re going, and mind the wallaby”. While I was watching the bunny, my friend saw a wallaby turn to us casually and hop away. All I saw was movement and my imagination did the rest. If she hadn’t been there to witness the whole thing, I might have been convinced of suburban panthers too.

  • Jason,

    I 100% agree with you. When people post information of sightings on here, I ask for the photos anyway since to date, the only ones I have seen are blurry, grainy and not convincing. Which is typical of crytozoology “evidence”. I am still waiting to hear back from the 2 people who left comments here declaring they had photographic evidence. As a sceptic I keep an open mind about everything, make decisions based on evidence and change my view if new and compelling evidence is presented to me.

    So far my opinion mirrors yours – because I have seen no evidence to the contrary. If I had a photo of the panther, I would want to release it to the world! Imagine the fame and fortune and appearances on every tabloid front page and magazine-style talk show.

    To date, I am still in the big pussy cat camp.

    Scepdoll.

  • OK, stop.

    It’s a cat.

    A domestic cat.

    You know, someone’s pet fucking cat.

    WTF?

    Which part of “large cat” don’t people understand? It’s a cat, and it’s large. It’s not a fucking panther.

    If people keep this up, I’m going to have to institute a policy of immediately slapping claimants with whatever comedic device I have to hand. You have been warned, public morons.

  • Hi Ben,

    That sounds amazing! Any chance you can send the outline photo anyway, sounds like this could be evidence! Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see a photo of the panther. After doing the research for this story I was hoping to see some photos, since so many people say they have seen the panther.

    If you are able to send me the photo leave me a message here and I will send you my email address.

    Cheers, scepdoll.

  • ben

    tonight me and a friend were driving down mitchells pass in blaxland. i slowed down at the give way sign at the bottom. wen turning i realised 2 really bright eyes. i stopped thinking it may be a possom. i looked and this black cat had a head the size of my own and it was the length of the bonnet of the car. me and my friend both attempted getting photos on our phone. i couldnt get it as my phone has a very blurry camera but my friend got a shot and you can only see the outline. i promise anyone whoever doubts the existence of this cat that it really does exist.

    Ben

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  • “hidden with”

    Sometimes there are things in life that you feel in believing,
    sometimes those things can bring joy or deceiving,
    sometimes you’re in a place where all the best ideas are leaving,
    sometimes you come across something amazing interlaced into the life you are weaving.

    Sometimes it is easy to get swept up in the tides,
    sometimes it’s hard to see things from both sides,
    sometimes it’s the smile upon where the skeptical person’s face resides,
    sometimes shows us new ways of thinking while the close minded just hides.

    Sometimes all it takes is to take a chance no longer on your own,
    Sometimes all it takes is one thing to put you in THE SKEPTIC-ZONE.

    ~timothy s. iwan 9/23/08

  • There are things in this world I try oh so hard to see. These things hide out waiting just for the right time to materialize, and much like the mysterious Panther, few people ever are fortunate enough to come across some living creature that creates within them such a swirl of emotions that they are left nearly speechless. In your case, you both were startled but were also inspired to take a photograph and that is what, these moments/animals/people do. They inspire us in ways we would have never expected, filling us with feelings that suddenly make us into that giddy little kid again.

  • Hi Mountain Girl, this is purely a satire piece, not meant to offend. After doing the research for this, I am in 2 minds about whether these guys exist. Any chance I can see the photo you have? Have you alerted anyone else to your evidence? I couldn’t find much in the way of photos except the grainy video still you see here. If what people say is true, I would assume there is not only one big cat. No way to maintain the population if there was not anyway! Do you believe it to be a panther or some other species?

  • mountain girl

    i’m glad the new prumier is finely doin sumthing about this big bloody cat cause we up here have seen it lots of times. i live near lithgow in a prety isalated area and my hubby has on his way to work on the highway seen it crossing the highway. one morning erly he saw this real big animal very black with a big head and big shinning yellow eyes siting near the road.so he stoped the car turned the lights of and watched it. it was looking at him and then got up and started to come to the car. my hubby got his camra out and took a photo we have the photo. its real! you can make fun of it all you wont but we up here know its real cause we have the evidence. lots of people see it all the time its got a family and all.

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  • After reading this article and finally seeing it up on this site in it’s rightful place, I just must mention that it is a fantastic read. ~