The last known Tasmanian tiger or thylacine died at the Hobart Zoo in 1936, rendering the species extinct. The Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) was formed as the Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment in 1998 to help protect Tasmania's natural environment and keep it relatively disease and pest free. In that capacity, the organization looks for animals that don’t belong in the environment. Those are usually invasive species, but an internal document shows that at least eight times in the past three years – including twice in 2019 -- it has investigated sightings of … wait for it … Tasmanian tigers. Do the Tasmanian and Australian governments know something many people have long suspected … that the thylacine’s extinction is suspect?
“*** and *** are visiting Tasmania from Western Australia. They are familiar with Australia’s
fauna. On 21st Jan 2018 they loaded their hire car on the Fatman Barge after passing through Corinna. Very soon after driving off the Barge, at approximately 3:30 pm, they had just passed the end of the bitumen and were on the gravel road travelling at approx. 60 km per hour. An animal walked out slowly onto the road. was driving and stopped the vehicle. The animal walked from the right hand side of the road (*** and *** were heading south to Zeehan and Strahan) three quarters of the way across the gravel road, turned and looked at the vehicle a couple of times, and then walked back in the same ‘run’ it had come out of. It was in clear view for 12-15 seconds. The animal had a stiff and firm tail, that was thick at the base. It had stripes down it’s 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. Both *** and *** are 100% certain that the animal they saw was a Thylacine. It appeared to be in good condition. *** and *** were able to point to the approximate location of the sighting on a map on Billie’s computer, and the resulting grid reference was: 339747E 5386956N.”
That detailed report comes from “Thylacine Sighting Reports - 1 September 2016 to 19 September 2019,” an internal document of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment obtained and published this week by CNN. This redacted account of a sighting in January 2018 was one of the most extensive but the most media excitement was generated by the two sightings just two months ago – one in Midlands reported on August 8 and another on Sleeping Beauty Mountain reported in July 29. Most of the encounters were brief but long enough for the witness to get a view of the creatures (one saw an adult with two cubs) and their telltale stripes to convince them these were Tasmanian tigers.
“They were driving along the main highway into Luanceston from Cradle (Bass Hwy I think) in the dark and the animal ran across the road infront of them and then stopped and turned back which gave them both a good side on view of the animal. A strongly striped pattern was observed by both of them and they estimate it was a distance of 20-30 m from the car. He commented about the tail not being fox like, not fluffy, a bit cat like?”
Disappointingly, none of the witnesses were able to take photos or videos of the creatures they saw. In a statement to a local television station and the AAP news service, a department spokesperson said:
"(The department) occasionally receives reports of thylacine sightings. While these are recorded, there is no evidence to confirm the thylacine still exists."
No evidence … just a lot of sightings. with the probability of more that have gone unreported for various reasons, including fear of ridicule. However, the recent sightings are enough for the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment to keep an official record of them.