There’s been another reported sighting of the elusive black panther, this time near Emu Plains.
Greg Culley and his 13-year-old son Samuel were walking in bushland north of Knapsack Reserve by Lapstone Creek on April 14 when they heard a tree branch rustling about 20 metres away.
“There was a thud like something came out of the tree. We thought it was a roo. But it was a large, shiny, black animal as big as a German Shepherd,” Mr Culley said.
“It was a big mass of black, flying at stealth mode along the ridge. Sammy saw the tail. It moved like a cat.”
Mr Culley believed it was too big to be a feral cat, nor did he think it was a kangaroo. He took a photo of leaf litter he believed was scattered on the ground as the panther made its swift departure.
It follows a reported sighting near Pulpit Rock in Blackheath in mid-March, and then in April 2017 near Martin’s Lookout in Springwood.
Hazelbrook resident Mike Williams, co-author of the book Australian Big Cats: An Unnatural History of Panthers on the subject, said it was unlikely it was the same animal reported in Blackheath a month earlier.
"These animals, like most large felids, are capable of roaming large distances if the need arose. The main driving force would be the density of prey animals in the area,” he said.
“We believe it would be highly improbable that the sightings are of the same animal."
He said the distance and time and rarity of seeing the panther suggested it was a different animal.
It is not known if the Mountains panther is related to the Illawarra panther, which has been reportedly spotted anywhere from Austinmer to Coalcliff, to the scenic Sea Cliff Bridge.