By Steph McNicol
IT started out as small project discussing sightings of black panthers in Victorian forests, but now Ben Beed has gained a large following in his search for big cats – deeming Macedon Ranges a ‘hot spot’.
The jump in listener numbers came after Mr Beed put a call-out to the Macedon Ranges community, which saw several residents coming forward to share their stories.
Numerous sightings and experiences with the mysterious cats are discussed on the podcast, including the account of a Macedon Ranges family in episode three.
“In episode three we hear from Trish and her family as they talk about their pet goat which was killed and dragged high up in a tree still tethered. They also speak about massive claw marks on the tree trunk,” Mr Beed said.
Mr Beed has recorded his sixth episode, in two parts, which features the overnight appearance of Lancefield’s mystery panther statue by a secret artist – interviewed during the first part of episode six.
Listeners will also hear the story of a hunter who saw the cat only 10 metres from him while he was shooting rabbits.
“I really think Victorians should tune in episode six. There is a fascinating story about an expert hunter who practically laughed at the thought of a panther roaming the Aussie bush,” Mr Beed said.
“That was until he saw it at the same property twice through his top of the range high-tech night vision scope.”
In part two of the episode, more sightings are explored and Mr Beed also interviewed a government official with DNA evidence suggesting the cat had been near by.
“Coming up in episode six, part two, out at Mt William Quarry, there’s a story about a big cat that was there for years but was kept quiet by those who knew of it as they didn’t want rogue city cowboys to go out there in big hunting parties,” Mr Beed said.
“Two experienced horse riders were on a trail ride near Macedon Ranges earlier this year and both saw a huge black cat, way too big to be a feral or domestic cat.
“It spooked the horses as it appeared up ahead on the trail. It revealed itself for enough time to identify the animal and wondered back off into the bush. Both witnesses were happy to share their account.”
Mr Beed said his interest in the ‘phenomenon’ of the cats started at a young age.
“When I was 13, I had an unusual experience. My friend Darren and I grew up in Bathurst and loved wildlife,” he said.
“We used to climb this tree every day to check on some ducks eggs we found to see if they had hatched. Then one day after school, the weirdest thing happened.
“The eggs were not there and there were three grey, cat-like creatures in the hollow instead. They were too big to be feral cats and their legs were strangely long and paws quite large.
“The local vet couldn’t identify them either which we found really odd. This story is in episode one and is concluded in episode five.”
People interested in streaming the podcast can do so via any podcast app, including Spotify, or by visiting missingpanther.com.au.