News State Tasmania News Thylacine trackers say they have new video proof

Thylacine trackers say they have new video proof

Thylacines are thought to be extinct, but a new video shows a similar looking animal. Wikipedia Commons: John Gould
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Footage of a purported Tasmanian tiger sighting has been released in Hobart.

The vision was recorded last November and was shown at a press conference by a group called the Booth Richardson Tiger Team (BRTT), which has been trying to track a thylacine.

The team said they had 14 cameras in an area within 50 kilometres of Maydena, changing the sites every fortnight.

It claims the footage contains recordings of the animal barking and nosing their camera.

Adrian ‘Richo’ Richardson, who has been researching and trying to find a tiger for 26 years, is convinced of its veracity.

“I don’t think it’s a thylacine, I know it’s a thylacine,” Mr Richardson said.

Greg Booth said he stumbled across a thylacine on Good Friday in 2015.

“I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t sleep for days afterwards,” he said.

“It had a really big head, a really long snout, it had a scar up here [on its head].

“Its ears were pointed and it had white around the eyes with dark brown eyes set back in the skull of the animal.

“It was sitting down and looked at me, I was about eight feet away from it.

Joe Booth (L), Greg Booth and Adrian Richardson, say they have filmed and seen a Tasmanian tiger in the wild. Photo: ABC

“I noticed his paws … you could see the stripes, the tail of the animal went down and it had a bit of a curl right at the end. Seeing the animal [changed everything], that’s why we did this.

“[Before I saw it] I never believed in them. It’s marvellous what you can take note of when it’s in front of you.”

He said he had not reported the sighting because he wanted proof he could show others.

More likely a spotted quoll: expert

The vision has been reviewed by a local wildlife expert Nick Mooney.

Mr Mooney told the ABC there was a 20 per cent chance of it being a tiger but was more likely to be a spotted quoll.

“This footage I saw some months ago now and had a chance to analyse,” he said.

“It was better than other stuff I’ve seen, but it is still not definitely a thylacine in my opinion.

“I think based on anatomy, movement, behaviour size, I think it is perhaps a one-in-five chance it’s a thylacine.”

More verification sought

The trio will release the vision to other wildlife experts to review.

Mr Mooney said it would be exciting if the footage proved to be authentic but he also worried the extra attention could be detrimental to the animal.

“Half of Tasmania would think it was like finding oil, and the other half would probably be horrified to think what it would mean to the animals,” he said.

“Essentially it would be very exciting. But it’s just one piece of evidence.”

The last thylacine in captivity died at Hobart Zoo in 1936. Thursday is the anniversary of the death of the animal, nicknamed Benjamin, but the team said the timing of the release was a co-incidence.

They said the 10-month delay in showing it to the public was due to efforts involved in getting the vision verified.

Thylacines once roamed mainland Australia and New Guinea, with the animal depicted in Aboriginal rock art paintings in West Australia and the Northern Territory.

Fossils have been found in South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland.

In Tasmania, two rounds of bounties were offered for thylacines – in 1830 and 1888, after they began killing livestock.

By 1909 the government had paid more than 2180 bounties and the animals were considered rare.

Reports have regularly emerged of people who say they have seen one, with grainy photographs often presented.

One university professor has said finding conclusive proof that thylacines still exist would “almost stop the Earth turning on its axis in terms of how big the news would be”.