‘As big as a German Shepherd’: Black 'panther' sighting near Emu Plains

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 was a big mass of black, flying at stealth mode along the ridge.

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.

TOPIC OF DISCUSSION: There has been plenty of debate in recent years around the existence of panthers in the Australian bush.

TOPIC OF DISCUSSION: There has been plenty of debate in recent years around the existence of panthers in the Australian bush.

“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.​

Numerous sightings of a black panther in the Illawarra have been reported over the years from Austinmer to Coalcliff to the Sea Cliff Bridge.

The last reported sighting in the Illwaarra was last year, when an Austinmer father and his teenage son were driving around doing their usual surf check.

They drove down Buttenshaw Drive and were in between Middle Heights Road and Buttenshaw Place when they spotted the creature on the escarpment side of the road, they told the Mercury.

“There’s no question to my mind in what I saw,” the man said.

“We both looked at each other and it was totally it.”

Prior to that, an Albion Park man Alex Vourliotis and his partner Tanaya Webb said they saw it at Coalcliff.