Some exciting news came out of Australia this past March! The Tasmanian Tiger, thought to be extinct, has reportedly been sighted by a park ranger and a tour guide on the Cape York Peninsula, a remote, isolated area near Queensland. It is one of the largest wildernesses in Australia, as well as, one of the last known, untouched, wildernesses in the world!+
Tazmanian Tigers, also known as Thylacine, have been thought to be extinct since the last known wolf-like carnivore died in a Tazmanian zoo in 1936. Since the recent sighting, 50 nature cameras are being set up with the hope that one of them will capture an image of the animals.
William Laurance, professor at Cook University in Australia, is heading a team to search the isolated area for the animals. He told the Telegraph: “All observations of putative Thylacines to date have been at night, and in one case four animals were observed at close range, about 20 feet away, with a spotlight.” He went on to say, “We have cross-checked the descriptions we received of eye shine color, 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.”
Although sightings of the animal are often reported, they mostly go ignored. Of course, since the animal was thought to be extinct, the reports are disregarded as being a wild dog or feral cat. However, the most recent sightings by an experienced park ranger, Patrick Shears is being taken more seriously. Locals have also reported seeing the creatures.
Park Ranger, Shears, told the Telegraph, “They call it the ‘moonlight tiger.’ They’re curious. If you’re not moving and not making a noise they’ll come within a reasonable range and check you out then just trot off.”
Tazmanian Tigers are not actually related to dogs or cats at all. Rather, the animal developed its striped back and carnivorous teeth through evolution in adapting to its environment. Thylacine can been seen in Aboriginal rock art dating back over 3,000 years ago. But, by the time Westerners began exploring the area, Thylacines were already extinct on the Australian Mainland and sightings were few and far between in Tazmania. The animals’ extinction is thought to be due to hunting and the introduction of dingos, which competed for food and introduced diseases.
Stuart Malcolm, a Tasmanian tour operator, is offering a A$1.75 million (£1 million or 1.3 million U.S. dollar) reward for any proof that the Tazmanian Tigers still exists. However, Professor Laurance believes that the chances are slim that any of the animals will be found.
I’m hoping they do find proof that some Thylacine are still alive! How amazing that would be!