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Presumed extinct, reports of sightings of Tasmanian tiger continue

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By Gabriela Baron

The Tasmanian tiger is believed to have gone extinct for more than 80 years, but a newly released Australian documents show reports of sightings.

The Thylacine survived in the southern island state of Tasmania until 1936 when the last known one died in captivity at Hobart Zoo after the species was hunted to extinction in the wild there in the early 1900s. (AFP photo) Manila Bulletin

The Thylacine survived in the southern island state of Tasmania until 1936 when the last known one died in captivity at Hobart Zoo after the species was hunted to extinction in the wild there in the early 1900s. (AFP photo / MANILA BULLETIN)

The striped predator hasn’t officially been seen alive since the last of its kinds died in captivity in Hobart Zoo in 1936.

However, documents kept by the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water, and Environment (DPIPWE) show that a number of Australians believe them to be very much alive and hiding in their home state in Tasmania.

According to DPIPWE, there have been eight reported sighting incidents including in February 2018 when a couple believes they saw a Tasmanian tiger crossed the road in front of their car.

“The animal had a stiff and firm tail that was thick at the base. It had stripes down its back,” the report said.

A week after the incident, a group of cyclists were out for a ride when they spotted what they believe was a Tasmanian tiger.

“I saw in front of me from a distance, what I categorized as a large cat-like creature,” one cyclist recalled.

In April 2017, another motorist reportedly saw a cat-like creature running across the road.

“It was not a dog or a cat or a fox. I’m certain that if it [were] a cat, it was a bloody big one,” he recounted.

According to a report by Xinhua, a DPIPWE spokesperson said that “there have been no confirmed sightings of the thylacine in Tasmania for more than 50 years and the species is listed as presumed extinct.”

“DPIPWE occasionally receives reports of thylacine sightings and while these are recorded, there is no evidence to confirm the thylacine still exists.”

The Tasmanian tiger was a wolf-like marsupial with stripes across its back. It was driven to extinction by sheep farmers who blamed it for killing their stock.

In 2002, scientists at the Australian Museum replicated Tasmanian tiger DNA to potentially bring back the species with cloning technology. The DNA was obtained from a pup caught and preserved in about 1866.

Nonetheless, the attempt was abandoned in 2005, saying the DNA is far “too degraded” to proceed to the next stage.

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