Mystery black panther spotted in Belgian forest.
16 November 2009
Copyright 2009 RIA Vesti. All Rights Reserved.
BRUSSELS, November 16 (RIA Novosti) – A black panther known to have been roaming a forest in southern Belgium for several weeks has been spotted near the town of Malmedy, the RTBF channel reported.
It remains unclear how the animal ended up on the loose in Wallonia.
German experts who have been called in to catch the creature spotted it on Saturday night, but were unable to get within range to fire a tranquilizer.
“The tracks they have traced on the site are undoubtedly those of a panther, and they also saw the animal that night,” police official Emile Delhez said.
The specialists, who are using a panther cub as a bait, will need to wait until the panther approaches to within 70-100 meters to tranquilize it.
No French or Belgian zoos or circuses have reported the escape of a panther. Local authorities believe the animal fled from a private owner.
Black panther spotted in Luxembourg: police
26 October 2009
1:16 PM GMT
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009 All reproduction and presentation rights reserved.
A black panther sighted in northeast France several weeks ago, and last seen in Belgium in September, was possibly spotted in neighbouring Luxembourg over the weekend, police said Monday.
“Police were alerted Sunday at 3:30 pm (1430 GMT) by a lady who saw a black panther in an industrial zone in Bascharage,” a small community in southwest Luxembourg, spokesman Vic Reuter said.
“We sent out several patrols with dog handlers, and a police helicopter with a thermal camera searched for several hours but we couldn’t find anything,” he said, adding that the hunt was abandoned in the late afternoon.
He said police were taking the sighting “very seriously”, given that a similar animal had been seen in the Ardennes region not far away in Belgium.
The panther hunt began on August 24, when a large wild cat was first spotted by hikers in woods in the Meurthe-et-Moselle region of northeast France.
Tracks at the site were found to be those of a “great cat, probably a black panther,” according to French hunting and wild fauna office (ONCFS).
Around a dozen further sightings occured in France, including one by a natural sciences teacher which was thought to be very credible.
No circuses or zoos have reported such an animal missing, and officials believe the cat might have been raised by a person living in the area.
To Kill or Not to Kill – Shy Panther on the Loose Near Belgian-German Border
11 November 2009
© Copyright 2009. Der Spiegel. All rights reserved.
Belgian police are hunting a large black cat, believed to be a panther, that has been spotted by hikers close to the border with Germany in recent weeks. Police say they may have to kill it, but a German zoo director is urging them to keep on trying to catch it alive.
A large black cat believed to be a panther is roaming the forests around the Belgian town of Malmedy, close to the border with Germany, and police plan to have it shot if they keep failing to catch it.
Hikers have spotted the animal repeatedly in recent weeks. At the end of October one man even managed to film it but the footage was too blurry to identify it clearly. No one knows where it came from because no zoos or circuses have reported one missing, but police believe it may have been privately held by someone in France, where a panther was on the loose at the end of August.
The French police didn’t manage to catch it and it may have headed east to the Benelux countries, trotting first through Luxembourg and now through Belgium. For Germans, the case has awakened unhappy memories of Bruno , the brown bear who ventured from Austria into Bavaria in 2006 where he was tragically shot dead after a seven-week rampage in which he killed dozens of sheep and famously sat on a guinea pig.
Between an Industrial Park and a Garbage Dump
The director of the Euregio Zoo in the nearby German city of Aachen, Wolfram Graf-Rudolf, said the panther didn’t yet pose enough of a danger to warrant killing it.
“I don’t’ think everything has been tried to catch it,” Graf-Rudolf told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “It’s relatively hard to get it with a tranquilizer gun because you have to get within 20 meters as the projectile is heavy. The animal has so far always bolted whenever anyone came within 100 meters of it.”
Graf-Rudolf said the cat appeared to be stuck in an area of forest near an industrial park and a garbage dump.
“The cat is, of course, capable of harming humans. But I don’t like the contradiction that police are saying it poses a danger even though no one can get closer to 100 meters before it runs off.”
“If the animal becomes emaciated and aggressive then one shouldn’t hesitate to shoot it but I don’t see that danger at the moment,” said Graf-Rudolf. “We shouldn’t waste time now. We should spend two or three days trying to catch it with cat traps and cordon off the area.”
‘People’s Safety Takes Precedence’
He said his zoo could take the cat in once it was caught. “Panthers aren’t threatened with extinction but it’s a living creature and as long as one can try and catch it alive one should do so.”
But at the moment, it’s not up to the German authorities. Michel Velz of the Malmedy police told the tabloid Bild on Monday: “If we can’t catch the panther we unfortunately will have to shoot him. People’s safety takes precedence, after all it’s a dangerous predator.”
For the media, the all-important question is what the panther should be called. So far it has rather unimaginatively been referred to in Germany as the “Eifel Panther,” after the region of wooded hills that straddles Germany’s border with Belgium.