Sunday, 23 February 2014

NEW ZEALAND NEWS: Does a group of Large Mysterious Cats roam the wilds of Canterbury

A relatively unknown New Zealand cryptid is the South Island Panther. Sightings of these cats are confined mainly to the Canterbury area and have led to the suspicion that the animal or animals are escapees from a private collection.

Sightings began in 1996 when a large black cat, about the size of a Labrador was seen by a woman who was mountain biking in the Twizel area. The cat was seen at a distance of about 30 metres. MAF was notified of the sighting and it was explained away as a misidentification of a large feral cat. However, the cat problem was to come back and haunt them when in August 1998 another large cat resembling a Mountain Lion was observed in the Dunstan Ranges near Cromwell, once again the animal was described as the size of a Labrador and having a dark orange – mustard coloured pelt. MAF dismissed it once again as another feral cat sighting. At the same time these sightings were coming in people in the Mataura area were seeing and animal similar in appearance to a Bobcat.

July 1999 and another sighting of a large black panther was reported, this time however in the Mackenzie Country. A report also came in from a Pest Destruction Officer from Banks Peninsular. Also in July, a Mountain Lion was photographed crossing a paddock near Omarama, once again government officials investigated the sightings and once again, the conclusion reached was another case of mistaken identity involving the giant feral cats of the area, which they assured people could reach a weight of up to 14 kg in the wild.

December of 1999 saw sightings of what has come to be known as the “Moeraki Mountain Lion”. This cat was seen by Canadian tourists as it sunned itself on rocks near Moeraki, South of Omaru. It was described as being distinctly Mountain Lion-like, which these tourists had themselves seen in their native habitat, about 3 metres long and golden coloured. The cat on being spotted sauntered from the rocks and disappeared from view. The tourists were met with some ridicule; the sighting was however given some serious consideration by a local restaurateur, who offered a reward for conclusive proof of the creature’s existence, none was ever forthcoming. Another cat to gain fame and a name was a large Mountain Lion-like animal seen in the Lindis Pass area in 1999. It was hiding in the undergrowth and photographed by a pair of British tourists and came to be known as the “Lindis Lion”.

Early 2001 and the Ashford Black cat was once again seen in the Bushside area of Ashford Forest.  The winter of 2001 brought renewed sightings on a farm in the Winterslow area of the Ashford Forest, it was another sighting of the big black cat, this time it was seen in a deer enclosure at twilight. A similar animal was also seen in the Anama area, and made this area its home for the next two years, creating sporadic sightings until 2003. A Black cat was also sighted in the Mayfield area near Ashburton in October. 2001 also saw the Fairlington area become the home of a large Black Cat. 


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