A black panther has been sighted at Mount Sugarloaf.
Chris Trees, 35, was riding his mountain bike when he spotted "a big, black cat" drop from a red gum tree.
"It was easily the size of a rottweiler. It had a big, black, bushy tail. It scared the shit out of me," said Chris, of Macquarie Hills.
"I go to the top of Sugarloaf and ride my mountain bike down. It's about two kilometres along Sugarloaf Range Road - there's a turn-off after the first small aerial tower.
"I was coming down there on Thursday at about 2.30pm. I was probably 200 metres along. I've come to a stop because I needed to adjust my front brake.
"I looked up and saw something drop from a tree about 25 metres away. The head shape was definitely the shape of a cat. The body size was like a big black dog, but it had a really long cat-like tail. I couldn't see its eyes at that distance."
He said the creature "stood up and faced me".
"I thought, 'What the hell's that? That looks like a panther of sorts'.
"After about five seconds of staring at me, it turned around and bolted in the other direction. It moved really fast, running off through the bush."
He watched it run into the distance before it "disappeared in thick scrub".
He called his sister immediately afterwards, telling her: "I don't know if you should come pick me up or not".
"She said, 'Why didn't you take a photo?'.
"I was scared to even move in case it wanted to chase me."
When he first saw the creature, he quickly tried to assess it. He thought, "That's a big cat, that's not a normal-size cat. Is that a panther or something?"
He had previously heard of big black cats reported at Lithgow, but hadn't heard reports about Mount Sugarloaf.
However, Herald readers have reported panther sightings at Mount Sugarloaf. They've also reported sightings at Minmi, Wallsend, Munmorah, Swansea, Morisset, Wyee, Freemans Waterhole, Kurri Kurri, Cessnock, Dungog, Singleton, the Watagan Mountains, Medowie and Stroud.
The Herald previously reported that cryptozoologist Rex Gilroy believed the panther was "actually a large marsupial cat".
Rex, who has written a book titled Big Cats of the Australian Wilderness, said the panthers move back and forth between the Blue Mountains and the Hunter.
Vaughan King, founder of the Australian Big Cat Research Group, told the Herald previously that he believes there are three panther species in Australia: the leopard, jaguar and mountain lion.
Vaughan previously worked for five years as a big cat handler at Australia Zoo, working with Bengal and Sumatran tigers.
"There are nine known subspecies of these cats, but we most likely have the Asiatic and African leopard subspecies here in Australia."
Vaughan reckons these big cats would not only survive in Australia, but thrive.
He didn't think it was strange that no humans had been killed by panthers in Australia.
Big cats like leopards and tigers usually attack humans when they're sick or injured due to a human attacking them, he said.
"This is why it is important to note that hunting these animals should not be an option," he said.
"They are naturally wary, elusive and will almost always run when they are noticed."
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Black Cat History
Black panther sightings in NSW have been happening for decades.
In 2001, a freedom-of-information request revealed the state government had been keeping a secret file on panthers.
In 2002, a NSW government inquiry found it was more likely than not a colony of big cats was roaming Sydney's outskirts and beyond.
But a 2009 Department of Primary Industries report concluded that "there is still nothing to conclusively say that a large black cat exists".
It said big cat sightings had been happening in NSW for more than 100 years.
More than 500 accounts had been logged across NSW in more recent times in areas including the western fringes from the Hunter to Sydney.
American soldiers were said to have brought panthers and pumas to Australia as mascots in World War II. Also, American gold miners brought big cats to NSW in the 1850s. And big cats were reportedly available on the black market years ago for $5000.
Big cats have reportedly escaped from zoos and circuses.
"I have spoken with a former circus owner who admitted to me in person that they had plenty of accidents over the years, one in particular where they lost an array of animals - including big cats (black leopards)," Vaughan King said.