Thursday, 28 October 2010
Tuesday, 26 October 2010
No, chiefly due to our very restrictive quarantine laws. Although the country was "swinging" it was certainly not swinging with large exotic cats as pets. The over-riding fear has always been that anything exotic can escape and never be found in the bush here as the areas are just too dense and rough...and dangerous.
Just standard lethargic public servants. I am not sure what it’s like in the UK, but if you cannot make it in the private sector here, you gravitate to the public sector.Most of the authorities here are completely clueless about any form of evidence; they change jobs all the time, go to a lot of meetings, send memos and basically cover their own arses.We have had staff from the NSW Department of Primary Industries asking us about DNA testing labs. We have sent the depts emails asking specific questions.
Around one year later on average we will get an email that doesn’t answer the questions and segues into idiocy and false statements. We will correct all the points and return the email. Around 6 months later we will receive another email from someone else telling us that since our first email was answered the case is closed. One govt department's investigations into data manipulation involved them contacting the actual guy in the department whom we had complained about. They asked him if his department had done anything "dodgy" and he said no. End of the "investigation". After three emails you become a "vexatious complainant" and then your emails just go into some in box in Alaska.
We were interested in the golden cat because of the crazy idea that some of these animals might have come across with early Indonesian traders who have been visiting the northern tips of Australia for possibly thousands of years. We were speculating that these animals could have crossed with early Felis catus lines – escapees from Dutch shipwrecks.The only ‘minor’ problem with those theories was the lack of evidence! We also speculated about hybrid vigour/adaption etc, which might have lead to larger animals and could explain the colour variations seen here. We have had reports of bobcat-type animals but they appear to be describing a short-tailed and muscular Felis catus.
Jet black for sure, but the lack of rosette reports has always been troubling.
We would love to believe that a melanistic form of puma exists as it would help us explain a lot of reports, but there is still zero evidence for their existence.
Yes we do believe animals could easily live largely undetected in the wild here. You are right about the zoo or circus to a degree, but private collections would be another matter entirely. However, if an animal was released from a private collection or was lost/escaped, all the owners have to do is report that the animal has died and been buried/disposed of. No one from any department comes and physically checks that this is true – and that’s AFTER the laws were tightened. In our book we recount the recent example of a pygmy hippo that appeared to have been living quite well as an ‘escapee’ from a private collection in the Northern Territory. Pygmy hippos are not renowned for their stealth, so if a large water-loving mammal can live happily undetected in the Australian bush, why not an exotic cat?
Another unknown...we’re not sure why ‘just’ the environment here would force this issue. Why not elsewhere? Cats are incredibly adaptable predators that thrive in all kinds of conditions. Not many people realise that cats can survive for long periods without water, subsisting on the liquids (blood) they get from their prey. While Australia may seem quite an inhospitable environment for a cat, quite the opposite is true. We would love to see the nuclear DNA sequence one day to see if there is anything odd in the male line, such as a golden cat.
9) Do you think the overly large feral cats explain most black leopard sightings even though whatever its size, a feral cat doesn't resemble a black leopard.
They could certainly explain some of them, especially at a distance when dealing with looking up or down a slope, but about three video sequences filmed in the last 20 years clearly show animals that do not conform to Felis catus morphology. The rest of the videos often show an animal that looks cheetah-like in shape, with a small head, often having pointed ears, which would seemingly rule out anything from the Panthera genus.
Yes, especially from Western Australia and central Victoria. However, just to muddy the waters further, these sounds are often heard on farms where black cats are being seen.
Around the middle of the 1880s, which is roughly the time the first circus menageries started touring the country.
Yes and no. Inadequate due to lack of time and money, for sure... The research needs more tangibles like DNA, primary and secondary evidence - like the recent successful hair and DNA analysis that identified Leopard hair from the Huddisford Woods in the UK. It’s unfortunate that too often many of these sightings become a part of folklore despite their basis in fact.
Yes, we agree that it is highly unlikely – it’s highly improbable. But having said that, it’s still possible. If it does not exist, then we cannot explain the large six-toed prints (and we are aware of polydactlyl Felis catus) or the witness descriptions of animals that have a box-like ‘possum’ head of the marsupial lion. Researcher Steve Temby filmed several sequences of animals in roughly one location over several months, and claims to have caught a Thylacoleo on film in one sequence. His footage was taken over several hundreds metres away from the animal with a normal low resolution video camera. He was adamant that through his high-powered binoculars he could see that the animal had a huge boxy head, unusual prominent canines and thick, strange legs. Yet the video shows what looks like a large cat moving around. Steve Temby also stated the gait of the animal was very odd. If Thylacoleo is still roaming Australia, we cannot explain the lack of "modern" Aboriginal art, Aboriginal folklore or even early settlers’ reports. The whole thing is very messy and very strange.
We have had very few lion-type reports (lion vocalisations come in sometimes). And yes, witnesses could confuse a puma for a lioness. Lions are a much more social animal and generally don’t care about being seen – a behaviour that proved costly for the Broken Hill lioness, which was spotted and shot by the side of the road.
I (Mike) watched an animal through a starlight scope that moved with the speed of a cheetah, with a similar body shape and the fluidity of a large cat. Rebecca observed a black fox moving across a paddock, which she initially thought might have been a cat.
Probably the "Emmaville Panther", where we tracked down the skin of the animal shot by Charlie Leader, which we discuss in the book. We really thought we would crack that one with the DNA. The formaldehyde used to preserve the skin killed that Sherlock Holmes moment for us.
There’s a steady stream of big cat, Thylacine and yowie reports always coming in. Bunyip reports have virtually dried up – it’s likely the animals responsible for these sightings were seals.
We think the odds of any ’undiscovered’ giant bipedal beast like the yowie/sasquatch/yeti sharing the same rough morphology and appearing on almost every continent a bit hard to fathom. We think it’s unlikely the ‘manimal’ is flesh-and-blood, but that’s largely based on the Australian experience. Just what it is we don’t know. We have interviewed numerous witnesses, lived in a yowie ‘hot spot’ and written about the phenomena for Fortean Times. We find the whole subject very interesting.
Other than what we have chatted about, there are very few reports that don’t fit into any of these pigeon holes.
No, but then again they rarely if at all engage in such analysis.
For every 50 reports we will get one weirdo. We’ve been stalked, harassed on the telephone and been the victims of character assassination. It’s not easy being sane and interested in mystery animals.
I think the animals exist in places they should not and damage those eco-systems regardless whether authorities recognise this problem. If they are recognised here (I cannot talk for anywhere else) then nothing will change. The media would trumpet ‘Big cats exist!’ Everyone would say "I always knew it" and change the channel to sport.
Here? It would be impossible. Whatever the animals are, they do not go to trees if dogs chase them – in fact, the dogs are normally running the other way. The terrain is too thick and wild for tracking by humans and we do not have trained dogs here. Australian authorities simply don’t have the resources to deal with big cats – we lack general expertise. Add to that these cat-like animals don’t eat baits and don’t step into cages or traps and seem to have a canny sixth sense when it comes to infrared devices on cameras.
We’re presently working on re-issuing a big cat classic with a new foreword. We also have a few other mystery animal book ideas in the pipeline.
Genuine, yes; attacked by a big cat, no. They just don’t have the kind of injuries meted out by large exotic cats. Swipes from leopards, lions, tigers, jaguars and the like would leave the injured party with shredded flesh hanging from their arms, not superficial cuts and bruises.
Hopefully a body on the table – indisputable proof of the big cat in Australia. Thanks for taking the time to write these questions and for the ripper review!
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Thursday, 14 October 2010
Yowie, big cat or a collage of curious beast tracks - what could have left behind these mysterious prints? That's what the good folk of the Upper MacLeay are asking after a local farmer found and preserved some weird tracks he spotted on the banks of a river.
Toorooka resident Reg Wooderson found the footprint last month while working on his tractor.
“We had a big rise in the river and a lot of debris got washed down after a couple of day’s rain,” Mr Wooderson said.
“I was tidying the bank on my tractor when it just collapsed.”
Remarkably lying on top of the rubble was a set of large footprints.
“This clod just rolled out and was very noticeable.” Mr Wooderson said. “There were two footprints but one just crumbled away. It was just too much of a coincidence to be a freak of nature.”
One thing's for sure - the 'print' appears to actually be two or three overlapping prints of an animal featuring big rounded toes. Not unlike the large cat prints commonly found but...sometimes these things are too difficult to call. The mystery deepens...
On 31st of October the CFZ 2010 expedition leaves England.
They will be exploring the Garo Hills in Northern India in search of the mande-burung or Indian yeti. The five-man team consists of team leader Adam Davies, Dr Chris Clark, Dave Archer, field naturalist John McGowan, and cryptozoologist Richard Freeman.
And the lads now have a blog! Check in regularly and see how they progress.
Wednesday, 13 October 2010
The debate surrounding the possible existence of the cunning and elusive Tasmanian fox (Vulpes vuples) has once again reared its head after a fox was reportedly spotted near the state's capital, Hobart, this week.
Farmer Bob Judd saw what he believes was a fox on his property this week.
"I grew up on a farm in South Australia and I know exactly what a fox looks like," he said. "There was this red apparition running like lightning, grease lightning, up the hill and it was a fox - it had a red bushy tail and all the rest of it."Officers from the Fox Eradication Program have taken detection dogs down to the property to locate the animal. The Manager of the Fox Eradication Program Alan Johnston, says more than 2,000 fox sightings have been reported since 2002.
Foxes were introduced to Australia in the 1850s by English settlers, but Tasmania remained fox-free until the 1990s when evidence of their presence began turning up.
The fox has inflicted enormous impacts on the native wildlife of Australia, being implicated in the extinction of many native animals.
Tasmanians can report fox sightings and any other evidence (unusual scats, den sites, stock kills) to the FOX HOTLINE 1300 FOX OUT (1300 369 688).
Tuesday, 12 October 2010
Could wild men still be roaming the jungles, forests and wilderness regions of the world?
There are reports from all over the globe of large 'man apes' - America has its Bigfoot; Canada has its Sasquatch; Australia has its bush ape, the Yowie; Indonesia boasts the Orang-Pendek; Brazil has its Mapinguary; China has its Yeren; Vietnam its Wildman; India its 'forest man' or Mande Barung; Nepal its Yeti...surely there must be something to all of these tales?
And what are they? Remnant race? Distant cousin? A new species?
Henry Gee, senior editor of that esteemed journal Nature, reckons there's a strong chance:
"It is entirely legitimate to ask whether H. floresiensis, or something like it, still exists, or, perhaps, became extinct in historical times: a human version of the red gazelle, perhaps.
"And if one admits H. floresiensis to the canon, what of other celebrated mythical beasts - if not necessarily Nessie, then the orang pendek of Malaysia? The yeti? The sasquatch? Bigfoot? Are all such creatures the products of delusion, conspiracy theories and hoax? Perhaps - but not necessarily. The little we know of those large mammals on the fringes of knowledge suggests that they live in remote places, are very shy, are extremely rare, and that to find them before they become extinct requires a degree of luck. So far, no hard evidence for yetis (say) has emerged. But in a world that hosts H. floresiensis and the saola, the kouprey and the red gazelle, one should keep an open mind."
How refreshing and inspiring to know there are still some very open minds in science, and that the spirit of adventure and inquiry isn't dead - not by a long shot!
This week there has been talk of launching a high-level expedition in the remote mountains of China's Shennongjia Nature Reserve in search of the Yeren, a costly exercise but one that could very possibly bear fruit given the remote locality.
In neighbouring India, the CFZ will soon be searching for the Mande Barang (or Burung) during a three-week expedition departing October 31 and returning November 20. The team consists of seasoned explorers Adam Davies, Dave Archer, Jon McGowan, Dr. Chris Clark and Richard Freeman.
To get an idea of what the team are in for when they get there, read Alistair Lawson's BBC story from 2008 about the Mande Barung sightings.
Now don't you wish you were getting out of that armchair and going with them?
Monday, 11 October 2010
For the next few Sunday evenings the excellent 'Last Chance to See' series starring Stephen Fry and naturalist Mark Carwardine is airing in Australia.
The pair go in search of some of the most endangered animals on the planet.
Last Chance to See originally started as a radio program and book from Carwardine and author Douglas Adams back in 1990. Twenty years on, and after the death of Douglas Adams, Stephen Fry and Carwardine retrace the vision of the original journey.
It's a brilliant combination of Stephen Fry's wicked humour with some of the planet's most incredible animals. Fry and Carwardine travel to several biodiversity hotspots to see animals such as the Amazonian Manatee, the Aye-Aye and the white Rhino.
Azaria's mother, Lindy, was found guilty of murder in 1982. But she was later exonerated after a piece of the baby's clothing was found in an area full of dingo lairs. The inquest will examine the question of whether the baby was taken by a dingo.
Beijing, China (AHN) - Despite more than 400 people claiming to have sighted an elusive ape-like creature covered all over with red, gray or black hair, lurking in the mountainous region of Shennongjia Nature Reserve, Heibei China, it has never been found.
Sunday, 10 October 2010
There will be a strong CFZ presence at this year's Fortean Times Unconvention 2010. On the speakers list are: -
Jon and Corinna Downes: Texas Blue Dogs;
Rebecca Lang: Australian Big Cats (and plugging her new book);
Richard Freeman: Return to Sumatra - On the Trail of the Orang Pendek.
And on some decidedly non-zoological topics: -
Andy Roberts: Berwyn, The Welsh Roswell (the topic of Andy's latest book) AND Amazing Dope Tales;
Mike Hallowell: The South Shields Poltergeist.
You can see the rest of the speakers here: -
Friday, 8 October 2010
The creatures, are described as being up to ten feet tall, with predominantly black hair. Most importantly, they are said to walk upright, like a man. Walking apes have been reported in the area for many years. These descriptions sound almost identical to those reported in neighboring Bhutan and Tibet. Witnesses report that the mande-burung (which translates as forest man) is most often seen in the area in November.
The Garo Hills are a heavily forested and poorly explored area in Meghalaya state in the cool northern highlands of India. The area is internationally renowned for its wildlife that includes tigers, bears, elephants and Indian rhino and clouded leopards.
The Indian team will be led by Dipu Marek, a local expert who has been on the trail of the Indian yeti for a number of years and has found both its nests and 19inch long `footprints` on previous occasions. The expedition team has also arranged to interview eyewitnesses who have seen the Mande-Burung.
Camera traps will be set up in sighting areas in the hope of catching one of the creatures on film.
The Mande-Burung may be a surviving form of a giant ape known from its fossilized teeth and jaw bones, called Gigantopithecus blacki which lived in the Pleistocene epoch around three hundred thousand years ago. This creature is of course extinct.
However, much contemporary fauna such as the giant panda, the Asian tapir and the Asian elephant that lived alongside the monster ape, still survive today. It is thought by many that Gigantopithecus also survives in the impenetrable jungles and mountains of Asia. Its closest known relatives are the Orangutans of Sumatra and Borneo.
Last year the team, who investigate mystery animals all over the world, travelled to Sumatra in search of a small, bipedal ape known as the Orang Pendek. Dave Archer and local guide Sahar Dimus saw the creature and the group brought back hair that was later analyzed by Dr Lars Thomas at the University of Copenhagen. The DNA proved to be similar to an orangutan's, an animal not found in that part of Sumatra.
Thylacines and big cats still lurk in the South West forests, according to Alan Troode of Nannup.
He collects and collates stories of both big cat and “Nannup tiger” (thylacine) sightings, concentrating on reports from around Nannup .
Alan first became interested in the thylacine when reading newspaper articles published in the early 1980s.
He was intrigued by the thought that the South West forests might harbour such fabulous animals and his interest was reignited when he moved to Nannup in the late 1990s.
Work and family commitments allowed him limited time to pursue the stories but conversations with locals fortified his interest.
He quickly came to the conclusion that he was not only looking at stories and descriptions of the Thylacine but also large predatory cats, not wild feral domestic cats but an animal the size of the mountain lion, cougar or puma , Felis Concolor .
He reckons he has an unbiased point of view when taking down thylacine stories and he soon realised that anything that moved in the bush that was not easily identified was claimed to be the Nannup tiger.
Some incidents contributing to the Nannup tiger legend showed traits and characteristics that Alan can only describe as speculative. Still he came to the conclusion that both the thylacine and Felis Concolor — two distinct predatory animals — roam the South West.
Two distinct animals give rise to two distinct animal hunters, he said. Information about both animals has been diverse, controversial and stories have been at odds with each other at times.
There is very little information about the thylacine and some reported characteristics cloud the issue further.
Reports have the tiger ranging in colour from light yellow to fawn, light brown to dark biscuit and all black — and with or without stripes.
Vocalisations have been described as hissing, coughing, snarling, growling and snapping.
During mating the mysterious beast is said to have a blood-curdling scream.
Often caught in car headlights at night, the blue eyes are believed to be the black tiger and the amber eyes belonging to the yellow chocolate tiger, he said.
Habits such as scratching sticks and dirt over carcases, multiple kills and the size of some animals killed brings into question the weight to kill ratio.
On some occasions the animal is described as being rather inquisitive and in no hurry to move and other reports have the animal taking flight and gone in a flash.
All this conflicting information has led Alan to believe that both the thylacine and Felis Concolor are still at large in the South West.
“I am only starting to scratch the tip of the iceberg so to speak and have a lot of further work to do on correlating both types of sightings,” he said.
“There are sightings of both animals in many areas claiming both tiger and cat occurrences.
“It is my hope to be able to engage believers of both animals in a more comprehensive look at the predatory animals that roam the forests with an open unbiased approach — to give validity and authenticity, to clear up some of the speculation and misinformation.”
Alan believes this can only help to strengthen belief in the presence of both the big cat and the Nannup tiger.http://www.donnybrookmail.com.au/news/local/news/general/true-believer-records-sightings/1961152.aspx
Friday, 1 October 2010
With the help of a local resident, the man captured the kangaroo and took it to the nearby Nordhorn zoo. Vets at the zoo established that the animal had a serious leg fracture they were unable to mend. They therefore put the animal down.
Police announced on Thursday that it was still unclear where the iconic Australian animal had come from.
“So far, no kangaroo from a zoo or animal park has been reported as missing,” a police spokesman said.
AWARD winning Australian geneticist and occasional Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service consultant Alan Wilton has joined criticism of Queensland Government dingo management practices on Fraser Island.
Dr Wilton’s research for the University of New South Wales proved dingoes are in danger of dying out through interbreeding in most other parts of Australia, something he says makes the pure strain on Fraser Island more significant.
He said pure strains on the east of the continent probably only exist on Fraser Island and in the Snowy Mountains.
Speaking at a recent fundraising dinner for the conservation group, Save Fraser Island Dingoes (SFID), Dr Wilton formally accepted the group’s invitation to become its patron and said the point of World Heritage listing is lost if island management does not protect wildlife there.
“The whole idea of having heritage areas is to preserve the species in those areas and that should be the priority,” he said.
He claims the mating of siblings among the island dingoes is a sign of a species in dire stress and close to extinction.
He was supported by former QPWS ranger Ray Revill, who now runs a private wildlife sanctuary at Maryborough.
Mr Revill says dingo issues did not exist in his time on the island, throughout much of the 1980s.
He said the four dingo feeding stations then on the island worked well and there was never any aggression from any of the animals.
Other speakers listed a range of other species which are now thought to have disappeared from the island.
About 200 guests included Butchulla elder Marie Wilkiinson, Gubbi Gubbi elder Eve Fesl, Hervey Bay MP Ted Sorensen and Federal Hinkler MP Paul Neville, who accused the government of being “oblivious to public opinion.”
SFID president Malcolm Kilpatrick said the organisation’s major funding priority at the moment is to support Rainbow Beach wildlife photographer Jennifer Parkhurst, who is due to appear in court again in November on a list of charges alleging feeding and interacting with dingoes on the island.
Can you imagine Australia without the dingo? http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/s1335391.htm