Big cat sightings across Australia are reported almost daily and researchers hope to gather more eye-witness reports from the Otways before finalising their documentary The Hunt.
Australian Big Cat Research Group founder Vaughan King, currently based in the Colac area, said he hoped yesterday’s release of the latest trailer for The Hunt would encourage even more people to share their story in the film, which he hopes will be complete by the end of the year.
Vaughan said he was also waiting for the results of DNA samples which he hoped might achieve the common goal of every researcher: to prove the existence of exotic cats in the Otways and across Australia.
The next-generation researcher, who is dedicated to continuing work started by researchers Simon Townsend and John Turner, is from Queensland but is back in the Otways following up sightings and reports which could become part of the documentary.
“We’re setting up a studio in Geelong and doing a call-out to witnesses to share their stories that can add weight to the documentary,” Vaughan said.
“We are definitely interested in historic and in the recent ones.
“Some of the stories are so definite; sometimes it’s a fleeting glimpse, but a majority were that they got to see the animal and got such a good look that their brains registered exactly what they saw.
“It doesn’t matter how old the sightings are, it’s all relevant and we can start painting a picture.
“And if you take time to report it, we’ll definitely look into it.”
Vaughan said researchers had interviewed people in the local Colac area, but they wanted more people to tell their stories, with plans to also do a call-out in the Blue Mountains and Western Australia.
“We also want people to report sightings on our website because then it’s locked away on our database.
“A lot of people are shocked and flabbergasted with what they have encountered at the time but we want people to know that we do take them seriously.
“We want to prove they exist, but there’s also that duty of care, because I know if my neighbour had seen a big cat I would want to know.”
See today’s Colac Herald for more.