The breakthrough follows decades of sightings of
mysterious wild big cats throughout Australia -- but no physical proof
of their existence.
The retired engineer said he lugged the cat
back to his camp, but put the carcass into the river after removing the
tail and photographing it.
Mike Williams, a representative of the Centre for Fortean
Zoology, a body that researches mysterious or out-of-place animals,
said he believed it was concrete evidence that big cats are on the
loose in Australia.
Hundreds of sightings have been reported over the years and a
leaked government document revealed 59 sightings had been reported in
Gippsland between 1998 and 2001.
The cats are said to be descendants of animals that either
escaped from zoos or circuses or were released by US airmen who kept
them as mascots while stationed in Australia in World War II.
"Kurt has killed an urban legend," Mr Williams said.
"He has proved all the hundreds of farmers have been telling the truth.
"There is a breeding population of big cats."
"The tail is 100 per cent -- it is a concrete case."
Scientist Bernie Mace, who has been researching
big cats in Australia for 30 years, said the animal was far too big to
be a feral domestic cat, and predicted it would be identified as a puma.