Following on from yesterday’s post about re-discovering the thought to be extinct Night Parrot, some 2000 kilometres west of its Western Queensland habitat, comes this story about an impending search in Northern Queensland for the most elusive and considered extinct Australian animal, the Tasmanian Tiger (or Thylacine) some 4000 kilometres north of its Tasmanian habitat.
The last-known footage of a thylacine, known as Benjamin, at the Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart in 1932.
Far North Queensland researchers will launch a scientific study into the existence of Tasmanian tigers on Cape York following a series of historical sightings being reported.
James Cook University scientists Professor Bill Laurance and Dr Sandra Abell will use more than 50 camera traps to survey sites where thylacines are believed to have been spotted.
Dr Abell, who will lead the study, said her interest was piqued after hearing Brian Hobbs’ account on ABC Far North, and has since been in contact with him personally.
“What really stood out to me was that it wasn’t just a brief sighting in the [car] headlights, he actually said that he saw the animals multiple times in one night,” she said.
Professor Laurance said Mr Hobbs account stood out as being “fair dinkum” and was clearly not fictitious. “He was quite detailed in terms of his descriptions of eye shines and aspects of the body pattern and movements,” he said. “All stuff that we were able to go back and cross-reference against other accounts.”
Both Dr Abell and Professor Laurance were wary of releasing too much information about the planned locations of their study, for fear of other people trying to get involved.
“We’re not worried too much about legitimate scientists doing that, but we’re a little worried about what you might call the ‘yobbo effect’, where somebody hears about it and then wants to go and shoot one of these things,” Professor Laurance said.
But at this stage expediency was Dr Abell’s primary concern.
“It’s really important to get all the facts together and there are a lot of different things we need to be sure of before we spend the resources to actually go out looking for something,” she said.
“We have had declines in our mammals all through Cape York and through Australia, so my concern is that if we leave it too much longer to just go and have a look then we could actually miss out on seeing something.”