Is this magnificent creature really extinct? Or is there still a small number still alive and thriving in currently unexplored forests?
The Thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger inhabited areas in Australia and Tasmania around 12,000 years ago. The arrival of Dingo’s in Australia forced the Thylacine out of it’s Australian habitat leaving the last of the remaining species in Tasmania. There, these creatures were considered pests, killing and eating the local livestock,and were subsequently nearly killed off. By the early 1900’s, the thylacine was an extremely rare creature.
In 1933, the thylacine was finally given protected status, making it illegal to kill any of these gorgeous ever. However, this effort was in vain. The last known living thylacine passed away on September 7, 1936. The fight to save this magnificient creature had seemingly failed.
But is the thylacine really extinct?
Numerous expeditions have been undertaken in the search for conclusive evidence that the thylacine is still very much alive. Not long after “Benjamin” the last known living tasmanian tiger died, there were numerous sightings of the supposedly extinct creature in the northwestern mountains in Tasmania.
In 1970, hidden cameras were set up in the thylacine’s habitat, in hopes of catching this elusive creature on film. However, this effort failed. Not even a hint of a tasmanian tiger had been caught on camera. Still, the amount of sightings rose between 1970 and 1980, reaching about 104 individual thylacine sightings.
On a rainy night in March, 1982, a park ranger awakened from sleep, and spotted what he claimed to be a thylacine about 20 feet away from where he’d slept. He described the thylacine as being a very healthy young male in excellent condition, with 12 black stripes and a sandy colored coat. In 1990, another park ranger spotted a thylacine in broad daylight, no more than 100 yards away, and wrote an article about his experience.
Bolstered by all the reported sightings, many people are reluctant to give up hope. Today, this species is considered to be “possibly extinct” the only creature to have ever received that status.
Realistically, many reports are likely to be misidentifications of feral dogs or other animals but I hope there are still living thylacines out there somewhere.
Thylacinus in Washington D.C. National Zoo, c. 1906. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)