Credible eyewitnesses have identified members of the presumably extinct Tasmanian tiger species — prompting an immediate widespread search of the region.
The legendary thylacine, more commonly referred to as the Tasmanian Tiger, was once widespread throughout woodlands of Australia and New Guinea. This dog-like creature was thought to have gone extinct in the 20th century, the last member of its species dying in 1936 at the Hobart zoo.
Limited physiological information exists on these mystical creatures, accumulated from a collection of fossil records, skeletal remains, and photographs. The thylacine was once regarded as Australia’s apex predator, resembling a short-haired dog with a kangaroo-like pouch and tail. It is pictured as yellow-brown in color with black stripes running horizontally down its rear, attributing to the “tiger” reference.
The Tasmanian tiger weighed around 50-70 pounds and its body spanned 2-4 feet in length. It was nocturnal and exclusively carnivorous by nature, presumed to have preyed upon smaller island mammals such as kangaroos, wombats, possums, and wallabies.
Scientists attribute increased pressure from human settlement and competition with invasive dingoes to the thylacine’s eventual extinction.
Despite this theory, reported sightings of Tasmanian tigers have persisted throughout the 20th century. Accounts of animals that resemble neither fox, dingo, nor wild dog have left scientists skeptical but without adequate documentation to prove their existence — possibly until now.
Detailed Tasmanian tiger sightings out of the Cape York Peninsula have officiated the launch of an area-wide investigation. The two eyewitnesses are both credible sources, one being a former employee of the park service and the other an avid outdoorsman. The accounts are clear and sightings from a close range, matching historic descriptions of thylacines.
Dr. Sandra Abell out of James Cook University has assembled a team that will implement more than 50 high-tech camera traps around the prospective region next month in hopes of catching the elusive creature on film.
The site locations are being kept confidential for the time being.
“We have cross-checked the descriptions we received of eyeshine colour, body size and shape, animal behavior, and other attributes, and these are inconsistent with known attributes of other large-bodied species in north Queensland such as dingoes, wild dogs or feral pigs,” reported co-investigator Professor Bill Laurance in a press release, exciting the general public with the possibility the legendary Tasmanian tiger might still walk the earth.
Check out some rare footage of Tasmanian tigers in the video below. This is a compilation of all five known Australian silent films featuring the recently extinct thylacines, shot in Hobart Zoo, Tasmania (other footage from London Zoo is not PD). Benjamin, the last specimen, is shown in the footage starting from 2:05. The clips are separated by fades, and shown in chronological order.
The number of sightings of Tasmanian Tigers has increased in the last few years, according to data released by the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment in Tasmania.
For example, an Australian farmer, Peter Groves, made the news after allegedly spotting a Thylacine while walking near Clifton Springs on January 4, 2019. Groves quickly pulled out his phone and snapped a few photos. “It could just be a mangy fox, but it seems to be bigger than a fox and it’s not shy,” Groves explained. “There is a lot of bush and a lot of cover and I think it’s living quite comfortably there.” He described the specimen as “funny looking … with a big long tail and stumpy ears”.