Tasmanian Tigers Alive and Well?

Written by Max Michalec, ESLLC 2016-2017

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Recent sightings of a strange dog like creature in Northern Queensland have sparked a quest to investigate if the extinct Tasmanian tiger, a carnivorous marsupial, is indeed still living. The last known Tasmanian tiger, scientifically known as Thylacinus cynocephalus died in a zoo in 1936 and there has been no hard proof since then of their continued existence, despite claims of sightings over the past few decades. Recently detailed accounts emerged from the Cape York Peninsula and have sparked the interest of Bill Laurence and his team from James Cook University. He has interviewed two people with potential citing’s one of them a long-term employee of Queensland National Parks and the information that they provided does not match that of other predators found in the area such as dingo’s and wild dogs.

Sandra Abell, a researcher with James Cook University’s Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science is leading a field survey in hopes of gathering scientific proof of the tigers continued existence. She will be using over 50 camera traps dispersed throughout the Cape York Peninsula to collect data on the mammalian life found there. She is hoping that her research will turn up evidence of Tasmanian tigers but if she is unable to accomplish this her work will still provide important data on the condition and population of many other endangered and rare animals found in the area.

“It is a low possibility that we’ll find thylacines, but we’ll certainly get lots of data on the predators in the area and that will help our studies in general.”

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