It’s long been considered extinct, but that hasn’t stopped a spate of reported sightings of the Tasmanian tiger.
It’s been more than 80 years since the last known thylacine died in captivity, yet eight alleged sightings of the carnivorous marsupial have been recorded by the state’s environment department in three years to September.
Reports of the Tasmanian tiger, from tourists, farmers and cyclists, range from footprints to a black-striped animal and one walking with cubs.
Two visitors from Western Australia claim in February 2018 a thylacine walked in front of their car at Corinna in the state’s north-west.
“The animal had a stiff and firm tail, that was thick at the base,” their account, released this week in government documents, reads.
“It had stripes down its back. It was the size of a large kelpie (bigger than a fox, smaller than a German shepherd).
“The animal was calm and did not act scared at all.”
The couple said they were “100 per cent certain the animal [they] saw was a thylacine”.
“I’ve never come across an animal anything close to what I saw.”
Earlier the same month, a cyclist at King William Saddle, in Tasmania’s remote west, recalled seeing a large cat-like creature with black stripes and dark-brown fur.
“It didn’t really make sense to me as being a typical cat, location wise, behaviour and the way it walked,” the report reads.
“As I live in a rural area of Mudgee, I am accustomed to coming across most animals working on rural farms.
“But I have never come across an animal anything close to what I saw in Tasmania that day.”
“This sighting bothered me for a few minutes and I pushed it aside.
“It had a long body, this is one aspect that made it look unlike any other animal I have seen before.”
While the unconfirmed sightings might fuel the hopes of some, the thylacine is still widely considered extinct.
“[The department] occasionally receives reports of thylacine sightings,” the state’s Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment said.
“While these are recorded, there is no evidence to confirm the thylacine still exists.”
Biologist and wildlife expert Nick Mooney has for years reviewed thylacine accounts and apparent footage and images.
“There’s nothing there that’s concrete,” he said of the newest reported sightings, adding it was “very unlikely” the animal is still out there.
“There’s a lot more chronic searching these days with cameras and wildlife traps for other animals.”
“It’s not impossible but it gets less and less likely as time goes by.”
The last captive tiger died on September 7, 1936, at the since-defunct Beaumaris Zoo.
Hunting, the introduction of dogs and the loss of habitat were to blame for its demise.