The Tasmanian tiger or Thylacine was the only member of the family known as Thylacinidae, a group of carnivorous dog-like marsupials, that survived well into modern times. The species was believed to have been extinct in mainland Australia by around 2000 years ago, and while Thylacines persisted in Tasmania until more recently, the last known specimen was captured in 1933 and died in captivity at the Hobart Zoo in 1936.
According to the Australian Museum, “In Tasmania the species was best known from the north and east coast and midland plains region rather than from the mountains of the south-west.”
“At one time the Thylacine was widespread over continental Australia,” a fact sheet at the museum’s website states, “extending north to New Guinea and south to Tasmania.”
“In recent times it was confined to Tasmania where its presence has not been established conclusively for more than seventy years.”
While the animal was officially declared extinct close to 80 years ago, the wording in the above statement is rather striking, in that it states the creature’s presence in modern times “has not been established conclusively.” The reason for this is simple: people have continued to observe the animals for decades, despite the belief that they all died out in the early 20th century.
Perhaps more compelling than mere sightings of the creature is official government documentation which gives them credence, the likes of which appeared recently on a document released by Tasmania’s Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.
The information on the document is sparing and only refers to two reports logged as recently as 2019, one of which describes a man who believed that he saw one of the creatures on his property in 2012. The other report field this year details the discovery of a footprint on Sleeping Beauty Mountain in Tasmania’s Huon Valley, which the observer believes to have belonged to one of the creatures.
More compelling reports from years past are also included in the document, which includes an incident in 2018 in which a pair of West Australian tourists visiting Tasmania were outside Corinna when they observed an animal walking slowly into the road ahead of them. The creature was described as having “a stiff and firm tail, that was thick at the base” and that it “had stripes down it’s back.”
“It was the size of a large Kelpie,” the observers said, noting that the animal remained in clear view ahead of them for 12 to 15 seconds before returning into the brush at the right of the roadway from which it had emerged.
“Both [witnesses] are 100% certain that the animal they saw was a Thylacine,” the report states. The document, which logs similar reports dating back to 2016, can be read online here.
Continued sightings over the years have prompted numerous searches, including one in 2017 as reported by The Guardian. The possibility that small groups of the Tasmanian tiger have persisted remains an intriguing possibility, especially with consideration for the latest series of reports suggesting that the species is still being seen in remort parts of Tasmania.by