Monday, 11 June 2007

Mystery of the three-toed prints

Left-Johnno Photo right- Paul Clatcher

My story goes, last Christmas / Newyear period 27th Dec 2006 I went on holiday in southern Victoria and Sth Australia, the first night was spent in Mt Gambier then on to the Vic coast the next day, I was heading for the Great Ocean Road and had just entered it's western end, I though I'd turn off on to one of the many 4wheel drive tracks to getaway from the hoards of visiters to the region, anyway as you would expect I didn't have a 4wheel drive just a normal car so it turned out that I could only go about 5kms down this particular track before it became in accessable to me, which annoyed me as I could see the ocean about 1 km ahead and heard the voices of people carried on the wind. I had been travelling for sometime with my last stop actually being at Portland, so nature was calling and like any aussie bloke a quick look around then do the buisness. I looked down to my shock I saw fresh tracks in the sandy dirt of the track I was on, they were as big as my hand about 5 inches across and wandered up the track a little before entering scrubland. I nearly shit myself mate, I instantly recognised them as belonging to a feline as I have owned cats all my life and know the distinct difference between a cats and dogs prints, besides there were no claw marks at the front of each toeprint common to a dog, though I had camera equipment with me I never took any photos as a big cat was all these could belong to I thought, and I could see they were pretty fresh no more than a few hours old so I wasn't sticking around to become lunch and I was travelling alone. Unfortunately the name of the National Park I was in eludes me at this time, but It had a steel scaffolding type structure erected as a public lookout about 2kms in off the western end of The Great Ocean Road.
BTW I too though of a wombat but the retracted claws and the size of them and stride was too great to be a wombat, as for the prints I photographed in the Riverland 2 weeks ago, I emailed them to a professor at the Adelaide Zoo, but haven't heard back from him yet, like I said they are definately not cat prints almost human like except with 3 big toes about the length of a finger each and all inline with each other, they wander long the side of the dirt road I was on and off towards a deserted but full sheep watering troff, the area was clearly a deserted and a farm at some stage as even with a 500mm telephoto lense attached to my SLR I couldn't see any animals or farm houses about, just a windmill powered borepump and the troff on the opposite side of the road, I took closeups and another shot which shows them as belonging to something that must walk upright, I also swear I never made them and can't see any reason for anyone else to have, as the chances of someone stumbling across them was almost infinite. I still can't identify them as the more I look at the pictures the more puzzling it becomes.

Received Tuesday 05/06/2007 - "How uncanny, they do seem to be made by the same creature, though the pictures of your 3-toed mystery looks as though they were made when the area was rather muddy or wet, what I didn't mention to you was that if you look at my photo of the prints taken from side on you'll see my shoe print crossing a tyre track, now whats interesting about this is I'm over 100kgs in weight and I barely left a indentation on the road yet look at how deep the 3 toed prints are in the imediate area, this must be one very heavy creature what ever it is, the same seems true for your prints where the ground appears sort of squashed. Besides it would take one powerful animal to lift a full grown male roo into a tree like that, I doubt that any cat smaller that a tiger or lion could do this, just because of the body weight ratios.

Could we have a new creature? Well yes, or maybe just a very old nocturnal one that keeps out of sight! I find that kangaroo up a tree very interesting as a fox or dog simply couldn't do this, yet a panther would, it's natural for them to drag their kill into trees to protect it from other plains scavengers but is it strong enough, however your three twoed prints found in that area are hardly from a cat of anykind so what exactly is it we both seem to have stumbled across? I don't want to yell Yowie or Bunyip just yet but it's beginning to look like it, must see if I can find a "Black Tracker" they might know :) Howmany of these things are out there? I mean its a bloody long way from Queensland to the lower riverland here in SA, and I can't imagine something travelling that far on foot and to never have been spotted. (Paul - Johnno, I cannot be certain how the roo got up the tree at all. And I can't know if the hindquarters of the roo were either cut off or torn off as the level of decomposition made it difficult to tell, but those strange three (3)-toed prints were very close. And, yes the ground there was quite compacted, so whatever made those indents, must have had considerable Mass.). Johnno.

CFZ credit: Paul Clacher

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