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30 May 2005

Big Cats

For years, there have been stories about big cats living in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales.

CHRIS COFFEY, BELIEVER: I remember the first time I saw the cat it was around about three, 3.15 in the afternoon. It was August. I was walking down the back of my property, and I saw this black streak just take off around the hill, large long tail. I have another friend who had mentioned to me that there was a large cat in the area that she had seen. And actually she had a very close encounter with it.

To be honest with you I was a sceptic, and I really thought "Yeah right, maybe she's just seen a very large feral cat" until such time as I saw it for myself. That's when I really started to take up the case that something has to be done about this.

LAUREN MARTIN: From their homes in the lower Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, Chris Coffey and a team of believers have kept a database of big cat sightings for the past seven years.

So far they've recorded 145 sightings of a large cat like animal roaming in the mountains. There's also been incidents of stock kills with disembowelled sheep carcasses found in trees.

MALE: Given all the people that have seen the cat, it's a real problem that we just haven't got it on film.

CHRIS COFFEY: It's like it knows the camera is there.

LAUREN MARTIN: The theory that a big cat roams bushland at the edge of Australia's largest city attracts scepticism, but there are also believers, among them some scientists and local politicians. Hawkesbury City Council is convinced that a big cat roams within its boundaries.

BART BASSETT, HAWKESBURY MAYOR: The fear is that somebody is either going to be seriously injured or worse. That's the fear.

MALE: I think there's something out there. What it is, I don't know, but there's something out there.

FEMALE: I just think there'd be more proof if it was there, more tangible proof, rather than just stories and stuff like that.

CHRIS COFFEY: It has been one of the most frustrating experiences of my life, trying to prove this cat's existence.

LAUREN MARTIN: Now the group has renewed optimism that the elusive cat will be found. A documentary team has come to Chris Coffey's property to find it, monitoring the site with hidden cameras.

MALE: If anything moves in front of these motion sensors, it will set them off, and they'll start recording.

FEMALE: At least if we don't get a big cat, we'll see exactly what animals this cat shares its environment with.

LAUREN MARTIN: The team hopes to capture the cat on film, solving the mystery once and for all, but if they don't ?

DOCUMENTARY MAKER: They are very difficult to catch. We've had that problem, trying to catch feral cats in Australia. So it doesn't really bother me, but I think the key is to leave these camera traps out there for as long as we possibly can, and I personally feel that eventually we will catch this big cat on film.

story notes

Saw is the past tense of the irregular verb see.
more information: see

take off
run away very fast

Example: She takes off when she sees a spider.
For more meanings of the phrasal verb take off, follow the link.
more information: take off

To be honest with you
When someone says to be honest with you, theyíre about to admit something is true.

Example: To be honest with you, I didnít like him when we first met. But now weíre great friends.

A sceptic is someone who doubts the truth or value of an idea.

Here thought is the past tense of the irregular verb think.
more information: think

until such time as
The phrase until such time as means Ďuntil the time whení. Itís used to describe a specific time. Chris didnít believe in the cat until the time when she saw it for herself.

Done is the past participle of the irregular verb do.
more information: do

Kept is the past participle of the irregular verb keep.
more information: keep

Here found is the past tense of the irregular verb find.
more information: find

We use given at the beginning of a sentence to mean considering or knowing. You could say on a rainy day:

Example: Given the weather, I'm not surprised that you're wet.

A theory is a belief or a set of ideas that can explain something. Here, the theory is that a big cat roams bushland in the Blue Mountains, near Sydney.

roams bushland
To roam is to travel around without a clear idea of where you are going. To roam often means to travel around searching. Bushland is wild, undeveloped land.

Scepticism refers to doubts about the truth or value of an idea. So, to say that the theory attracts scepticism means that a lot of people donít believe it.
The adjective is sceptical.

Example: Most people are sceptical of the idea that big cats could live in the Blue Mountains.

Here, a believer is someone who accepts something is true.

To be convinced about something is to be certain or sure that it is true.

Boundaries are the limits of an area.

renewed optimism
Renewed means made new again. And optimism is hopefulness. Itís the belief that good things are going to happen in the future. So the group feels hopeful again.

Elusive means hard to find.

documentary team
A documentary team is a group of people who are making a documentary.
The noun documentary describes a TV or radio program that gives facts and information about a subject.

once and for all
finally and definitely

Example: We've got to fix the problem with the drains once and for all.
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.