ON THE PROWL: Big cat expert Vaughan King.
ON THE PROWL: Big cat expert Vaughan King. Contributed

ON THE PROWL: Hunt for big cat hits Gympie

THE Gympie region has long been known for its big cat sightings, recent and historical, and now its "big cat hot spot” activity could put it in the spotlight.

Now is the chance to tell about your sighting, and possibly have it become part of a documentary The Hunt, after a recent research trip uncovered new DNA.

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Big cat expert Vaughan King is on a quest to prove the big cat phenomenon on film with the production of feature-length documentary, The Hunt.

Directed by Stu Ross, The Hunt follows big cat researchers Simon Townsend and John Turner as they wind up a three-decade quest to prove there is a living population of big cats in the Australian bush.

Evidence of 'big cats' that injured horse outside Gympie.
Evidence of 'big cats' that injured horse outside Gympie. Panther People | YouTube

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Worried the mystery will outlive them, they enlisted young blood, big-cat expert and ex-zookeeper Mr King to take on their life's work.

Mr King has dedicated his next two years to the mission, relocating his family from the Sunshine Coast to Victoria, where most panther and puma sightings occur.

Vaughan King handling a  big cat at Australia Zoo.
Vaughan King handling a big cat at Australia Zoo. Contributed

On average, a big cat sighting has been reported every day in Australia over the past two years.

He will also will continue to travel throughout Australia to investigate new sightings.

HOTSPOTS: The sightings logged nationwide of big cats to-date. Victoria, South Australia and southern New South Wales are hot spots.
HOTSPOTS: The sightings logged nationwide of big cats to-date. Victoria, South Australia and southern New South Wales are hot spots. pantherpeople.com

King had always looked up to Townsend and Turner during his early years of big cat research.

Now they are handing him the reins and entrusting him to carry on with their life's work.

Mr Ross said it was one of Australia's biggest mysteries.

"Big cats in the bush are often dismissed as an urban myth,” he said.

LURE: Camera traps are set at a Curra property following a big cat sighting report.
LURE: Camera traps are set at a Curra property following a big cat sighting report. Contributed

"In the film, via the painstaking and committed efforts of our researchers, we have an opportunity to document the emergence of such a myth into the light of scientific observation.”

The research involves using the latest evidence gathering techniques including motion- activated camera traps and thermal drones.

If you have seen a big cat in the Australian bush in the last two months, you can report sightings to bigcats.com.au to help solve the mystery.

Gympie Times


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