‘Give me proof of panther’: Cynic offers $5k for big cat’s capture

Bede Crasnich isn’t buying the black panther legend. But he’ll pay $5k for anyone who can show him an Illawarra-caught big cat in the flesh.Wollongong councilor Bede Crasnich doesn’t want to be a big cat cynic.

The stories of a panther, or panthers, roaming the Illawarra escarpment captured his imagination years ago.

He’s read all the newspaper articles on the topic.

Bede CrasnichHere, Kitty: The paw print was the only undisturbed one of its kind in the area. It is shown against an 8cm Bic lighter. Picture: John Geragotellis

Dog spoors (front and hind) produce a perfect ‘x’ when lines are drawn between the toes and the planter pad, Mr King suggests.

… the same rule does not apply to these tracks, produced by a female leopard. Source: Vaughan King

Mr King believes consistent reports of a large black cat roaming the Illawarra escarpment relate to multiple melanistic (black) Asiatic leopards (pictured). Supplied.

Vaughan King. Source: Facebook

Vaughan King works with a Sumatran tiger, Juma, at Zoo. Picture: supplied

Vaughan King works with a Sumatran tiger, Juma, at Zoo. Picture: supplied

Sumatran tiger spoor.

TweetFacebook“There are some pictures you’ll see online which look convincing, but physical proof?” Cr Crasnich said.

“If you want proof kangaroos exist, you find their bodies. If you want proof deer exist, you find their bodies.

“Why is is, after 80 years of big cat sightings, we have not found a single bit of physical evidence?”

Read more:You know you’refrom Wollongong when …

What Cr Crasnich will buy, is proof.

He’s offered to pay $5000 to anyone who can show him an Illawarra-caught panther.

The big cat must be captured alive, and must be unharmed, he stresses.

And he’ll only cough up the cash for a proper panther.

The panther photo at the top is a fake but Wollongong City Councillor Bede Crasnich is putting up a reward for the real thing.

​“It has to be a jungle cat. It has to have cougar, panther or any sort of exotic at 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.

“I want tests done before I’ll part with cash.”

A photograph of an eight-centimetre paw print is the latest ‘sighting’ to rouse the big cat legend, in turn setting off a wave of reported sightings.

An Appin man,John Geragotellis, noticed the print off Austinmer’s Buttonshaw Drive on Easter Monday.

His photograph piqued the interest of former Zoo big cat handler Vaughan King, founder of the recently formedn Big Cat Research group.

Mr King visited the Illawarra last month to search for further signs of the print’s creator. He found nothing, but has vowed to return the the sighting “hotspot” with his own cameras.

He will have to produce very convincing images to sway the disenchanted Cr Crasnich.

“What I think it is, is really large, feral cats, that from a distance look like jungle cats,” he said.

“You want [the legend]to be real, more than it is.”

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