The Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacine) is thought to have become extinct in 1936, but recent sightings suggest the animal may not be extinct after all. It’s widely believed the last Tasmanian Tiger died in captivity at the Hobart Zoo, however during the past 3 years, there have been 8 officially reported sightings.
How did the Tasmanian Tiger become extinct?
The population of the Tasmanian Tiger was thought to number around 5000 during the time of the European settlement. Unfortunately, the Thylacine fell victim to excessive hunting, disease and the destruction of it’s natural habitat.
The Thylacine was originally hunted by Aborigines on the Australian mainland, and died out some 3,000 years ago, however, some of the population managed to escape to Tasmania, where they were able to survive until 1963.
Due to stories of the Tigers attacking sheep, they were later hunted by European settlers, which added to the quickening demise of the species. A new law was introduced in 1886 that mandated the ending of the species. It wasn’t only humans that were hunting the Tigers however, Dingos (wild dogs) were introduced by the settlers to the Australian mainland, and are also said to be responsible for killing a large part of the population.
In recent years, scientists have come up with a new theory, that suggests the Tasmanian tiger became extinct from extreme weather conditions and drought. Though the remaining numbers that succumbed to drought were already low from hunting and disease.
Where were the last reported sightings?
A report published by the government records a possible sighting of the Tasmanian Tiger in 2019. A man on a hike in Hobart, saw a footprint, which he believes belonged to a Thylacine. This possible sighting was only a few months ago in July.
Another recent sighting was reported by a Western Australian couple visiting Tasmania in February, who claimed a Tasmanian Tiger crossed the road in front of them while they were driving.
Earlier possible sightings are also recorded in the government report, including a few from the previous 3 years.
Tasmanian officials say “there is no evidence to confirm the thylacine still exists” but a document published this week by the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) features numerous accounts from farmers, bushwalkers, tourists and others claiming to have seen the striped carnivore over the past three years.The Telegraph
Learning From Our Mistakes
Humans played a huge role in the Thylacine becoming an extinct species, and it’s our duty to prevent further species suffering the same fate.
If the species has become extinct, it’s possible that it’s not lost forever. In 2002, scientists at the Australian Museum managed to replicate Thylacine DNA, which could see a potential revival of the species in the future, using modern cloning technology.