Monday, 30 July 2012
Many readers will recall that the wife of CFZ member and Danish cryptozoologist Lars Thomas went missing earlier this year. Tragically, there has now been a resolution in this case with the discovery of Jeanett Rask's body.
Our hearts go out to Lars and his family during what has been an incredibly difficult time for them all with the loss of their beautiful Jeanett.
Please remember them in your thoughts.
The full story is over at the Centre for Fortean Zoology main blog.
The Glen Innes Examiner recently featured the reflections of several readers about their personal 'Emmaville panther' stories and sightings, as related by journalist Liz Chappell. She wrote:
When I was growing up at Dundee in the 1950s I longed to see the Emmaville panther.
But my mother told me it was only seen by men who were out too late at night.
Since the Examiner revisited the legend of the local panther a couple of weeks ago, several other believers have come forward with reports of sightings or strange yowls and things that go thump in the night.
It seems the panther has made its appearance in places other than Emmaville, sometimes in broad daylight.
John King from Matheson can clearly remember an incident 18 years ago.
At around 3am he and his wife Val were woken by a blood curdling screech in their front garden, followed by a loud thump of something hitting the ground.
“I went out and found our pet cat right at the top of the tree.
“The yowl I heard was definitely not from a domestic cat and the weight that hit the ground made a loud thud.” He recalls.
This was one of four reported incidents around Matheson within around three weeks, attributed to a panther type creature.
A large black cat was sighted crossing the Gwydir highway one night. Another Matheson resident reported their dogs being terrified and unwilling to come outside.
Local grazier, Jenny Anderson, then living at “Caloola” at the top of the Matheson Valley, saw a large black animal she believes was a panther.
“I was mustering sheep for crutching in the hills at the back of our property. I had dogs with me and was moving the mob down a fence line when I saw a large black catlike animal sitting on a log on the other side of the fence.
“It was definitely not an illusion,” Mrs Anderson says.
“This animal was black and shiny and about the size of a well grown kelpie. By the time I got the sheep through the gate it was gone.
“When I got the sheep down to the shed my husband said I looked very pale and shaken.
Those who have seen the panther recall it vividly even decades later. Cathy Potter, who now lives at Tenterfield, was newly married when she, with her husband Peter and his mother, sighted a panther at their Emmaville property “Wongalea” in 1967.
“Peter’s mother saw it first and called us to look. It was early in the morning at this animal was only about 500 meters from the house. We were looking at it uphill against a fence and it looked about the length of two fence panels (4m) from head to tail.
“I’ve never forgotten it. It was phenomenal, not an everyday thing. Horses wouldn’t go near the area where we saw it. There was an unusual smell around there.
“The next day we came across three big paw prints on the road,
“We had a number of sheep killed on “Wongalea” at this time. They were hollowed out like a cat eats, nothing like a wild dog kill. One morning on the other side of the property about 2 miles from the house I came across a sheep with its leg completely bitten off,” Mrs Potter recalls.
Peter Potter and his mother had previously sighted what they believed to be a panther in 1963. This one was sitting near the Bungulla Hall, not far from the road when they drove past, in separate vehicles one night.
Mrs Potter remembers quite a few people around Emmaville saying they’d seen the panther around this time.
“Some people wouldn’t report it because they thought they’d be laughed at,” Mrs Potter said.
Stuart Boyd-Law from National Parks and Wildlife Service is quite sure no panther or panthers are at large in the district now.
As Pest Management officer for the NPWS Glen Innes and Tenterfield areas, Mr Boyd-Law is responsible for monitoring and controlling all pest animals on the parks area of 324,000ha.”For the past 3 to 4 years we have had remote cameras across most of our parks tracking animal movements and we have never seen anything like a panther, “ Mr Boyd-Law said.
“ No panthers have been found, dead or run over on the roads. I haven’t seen a good photo of one or scats or paw prints. This gives me grave doubts about panther sightings.
Mr Boyd Law said the largest feral cats are 8-10 kilos, much smaller than the animals reported as the panther.
Have you entered the CFZ's Australian Big Cats competition? It closes September 1, 2012!
Saturday, 28 July 2012
31 July - Time travelling with ancient DNA
Dr Mike Bunce from Murdoch University will tell us about his groundbreaking research extracting DNA from extinct birds. From the fossilised poo of the twelve foot moa bird of New Zealand, to eggshell fragments from the massive Madagascan elephant bird, ancient DNA can reveal more about what these creatures ate, how they evolved and how they became extinct.
4 September - Why is a duck a dinosaur?
Join us for a live dinosaur dissection with Curtin University’s Associate Professor Kate Trinajstic. Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops haven't walked the planet for 65 million years, but are dinosaurs all extinct? The 2010 Prime Minister’s prize winner will dissect a barbecue duck to show that avian dinosaurs are alive and well today, and discuss her own research on fossil fish.
24 September - Ancient volcanoes and asteroids: Where did the dinosaurs go?
What dramatic change occurred nearly 66 million years ago to cause the mass extinction of the dinosaurs? Curtin University geochronologist Dr Fred Jourdan will guide us through the myths and facts of volcanoes and asteroid impacts, and show us how several factors probably contributed to the dinosaurs’ demise.
Time: Doors open 6.00pm, lecture 6.30-7.30pm
Location: Lotterywest Science Theatre, Scitech
Cost: $5 per person, or free to Scitrekker members.
The fee includes time in Scitech’s Explore-a-saurus exhibition which will be open before and after the lecture (6pm-8pm) Bookings are essential by following the Trybooking links at http://www.scitech.org.au/events/events/lecturesaurus-series.html.
Friday, 27 July 2012
|Photo courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jaguar.jpg|
We're pleased to see Dr Darren Naish's review of our books Australian Big Cats: An Unnatural History of Panthers AND Savage Shadow: The Search for the Australian Cougar continues to be one of the most popular posts on his Scientific American blog, which has just chalked up its 100th post!
"It is, to date, the ultimate book on the subject and one that should definitely be consulted by anyone seriously interested in Australian cryptozoology, or indeed in cat lore or biology in general. Given that Australian ‘big cats’ – whatever they are – have received all too little ‘official’ attention, will this huge book be the catalyst that helps break down the stigma that still surrounds this fascinating subject?"
Well, we live in hope Darren! :-)
Thursday, 26 July 2012
To celebrate the fact we have two books out now and a third underway (shhhhh! a secret for now) we want to run this fabulous competition to reward you, our loyal readers and Facebook likers!
Win this beautiful David Geenty cold-cast bronze sculpture of a Puma/Cougar/Mountain Lion mounted on a wooden base. We love this so much we have one of our own on our bookshelf (and no, you won't be getting that one!). You will also win two signed copies of Savage Shadow (1 copy) AND Australian Big Cats: An Unnatural History of Panthers (1 copy). Altogether the prize is worth more than A$120!
To go into the running, you need to post a review(s) of one or more of our books (Australian Big Cats: An Unnatural History of Panthers and/or Savage Shadow: The Search for the Australian Cougar) to Amazon.com and/or Amazon.co.uk. It's easy to join these sites and your positive reviews will help support us in selling our books.
The more reviews you post, the better your chances! The maximum number of times you can enter is four (4) - a review of each book on both sites.
We will be drawing the winner (there is only one (1) prize) on Sepetember 1. This competition is open to all.
So get moving and get your reviews posted!
Wednesday, 25 July 2012
Holy hairy hominid Batman!
This Yowie-plagued property yielded a few surprises for our cameraman - strange (marsupial?) prints all over the window of the occupant's car.
What? Where? How? Why?
Night parrots were thought to be extinct for a time, however there have been a small number of sightings in recent years in south west Queensland, the far north of South Australia and the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Mike Griffiths has recently travelled to our region from Western Australia on a quest to film the endangered bird.
“It is highly likely that there are still night parrots in the area,” Mr Griffiths said.
“A few of the locals have relayed stories of sightings in the past.”
Night parrots are nocturnal, ground-dwelling birds.
They take to the air only when disturbed or in search of water.
They are a fairly small parrot that is a yellowish-green colour and with mottled dark brown, black and yellow.
Mr Griffiths’ aim was to get in touch with landholders who may know of night parrots.
He plans to then work with those people to set up motion triggered cameras to film or photograph the rare birds.
It’s Mr Griffiths’ passion and hobby to film unusual birds and small animals.
“People on the land know far more about local wildlife than they are given credit for,” he said.
“There is nothing more interesting than listening to their stories.” Mr Griffiths will again be in the area in September to check cameras and set up more observation sites.
If you think you have seen a night parrot or any rare and unusual fauna, you can have them recorded by contacting Mike Griffiths on: 0428 530 989 or the local regional Landcare facilitator Anne Holst on 02 6872 2144.
The location of these birds and animals can be kept confidential if preferred.
For any Landcare-related enquiries contact the regional Landcare facilitator for your area:
Anne Holst 6872 2144 (Western), Tanya Slack-Smith 6828 0121 (Namoi) or Danielle Littlewood 6840 7805 (Central West).
Scientists say strong evidence is emerging that the catastrophic Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease should be regarded as a parasite.
The disease, which has wiped out 80 per cent of the devil population in the wild, has been treated as a transmissible cancer.
But immunologist Greg Woods from the Menzies Institute says it also shows many classic parasitical characteristics.
"It's a cancer and a parasite," he told AAP before delivering his findings to the Australian Society for Parasitology's conference in Launceston.
"It goes from host to host and using each host to survive, and it will damage its host and move on to the next host so it's behaving like what we classically regard as being a parasite."
Also like a bona fide parasite, it uses the host's natural behaviour to spread itself, in this case the devil's insatiable appetite for violence.
"You drink water so you pick up a parasite," Associate Professor Woods said.
"With the devil, the tumour gets on the teeth and devils bite each other."
There is other evidence too - the disease avoids the immune response of the devil by covering itself in its host's proteins.
The question remains, though, whether it can be considered a "perfect" parasite like malaria because it has not yet managed to survive in more than one species.
But it is its parasitic behaviour that makes the tumour disease fundamentally different from the form of cancer that humans contract, Prof Woods said.
"The question is: Are cancers parasites because they live off the host?" he said.
"The thing about the cancer that us humans get is that once the human dies or recovers the cancer dies as well, whereas this tumour goes from host to host."
The origin of the disease has been traced to a single cell in a single female devil in the 1990s but it is unknown how she contracted it.
Scientists are in a race against the clock to find a cure, with some estimates suggesting devils in the wild could be extinct in 25 years, and there have been few breakthroughs.
Tuesday, 24 July 2012
Dingoes are currently listed as a threatened species but if more isn't done they could disappear from parts of Australia, wildlife experts say.
Healesville sanctuary senior dingo keeper Sue Jaensch said Tuesday's coronial ruling that a dingo was responsible for the death of Azaria Chamberlain in 1980 provided an opportunity to highlight the difficulties dingoes face in the wild.
'Most of our visitors aren't aware dingoes are classified as a threatened species here in Victoria,' Ms Jaensch told AAP.
It was only in 2008 that the Victorian government recognised the dingo as a threatened species.
Before that they were recognised as a pest, Ms Jaensch said.
'Historically dingoes have been managed as pests.'
Ms Jaensch's concerns echo an article published in Australian Wildlife Secrets in May that warned if immediate action wasn't taken to protect the dingo it may go the way of the Tasmanian Tiger and become extinct.
'In recent times (dingo) numbers have declined over large areas of its former range,' the report said.
When asked if the threat of extinction was real, Ms Jaensch said: 'Definitely in parts of Australia.'
'The biggest threat to them in the wild is the interbreeding with feral dogs,' Ms Jaensch said.
'Sadly we have a growing population of wild dogs in Australia.'
Dingoes are notoriously secretive and therefore difficult to study but myths surrounding the shy canid have put its future in jeopardy.
Ms Jaensch also said their reputation as an introduced species and predator contributed to their treatment in the past.
However, as a top order predator, she likened their role to that of a lion in Africa or a tiger in Asia.
'Dingoes are a very important part to the native environment,' Ms Jaensch said.
'Recent studies have shown in areas where dingoes are found they help to control numbers of foxes and feral cats and rabbits which is great for famers because that means they've got more grass.'
Monday, 23 July 2012
Over at the Australian Big Cats blog run by CFZer Mike Williams is this bush mystery - a clawed print found in the muddy red soil of far north Queensland.
"We were walking thru the bush along side a man-made dam and found these tracks running along side a cow's tracks. It measured 11cms in width..."
You can read about more sightings at www.australianbigcats.com
Tuesday, 17 July 2012
The man who filmed the cats thought it could go some way to explaining the source of the many large black cats seen in the Ballarat district of Victoria. He estimated the cats were more than two feet long in body length.
The man said the cats had given him a scare a couple of times at night on his property and near where he keep his chooks. The film shows some slightly larger than average feral cats.
A couple of interesting features in the film though regarding the social behaviour of the two adults and the single kitten and the fact that all are black, despite it being a rarer colour for feral cats in Australia.