Tasmanian tiger may have survived until the 1980s or later: study
Sydney, Australia, Mar 27 (EFE).- The Tasmanian tiger may have survived until the 1980s or even later, according to a new study that confirms sightings of this elusive animal decades after the death of the last known specimen in captivity in 1936.
Barry Brook, an environmental sustainability professor at the University of Tasmania and leader of a study questioning the extinction date of the species, suggests the possibility that “extinction likely occurred within four decades after the last capture, so around the 1940s to 1970s.”
“But we found, through further analysis, that extinction might have been as recent as the late 1980s to early 2000s, with a very small chance that it still persists in the remote south-western wilderness areas,” the expert added, in a statement by the university published Monday.
The study calls into question the extinction of the Tasmanian tiger – also known as thylacine – on Sep. 7, 1936, when the last known specimen died in a zoo in the Australian city of Hobart, on the southern island of Tasmania.
The animal was officially declared extinct only in the 1980s.
The study is based on 1,237 observational records dating from 1910 onwards and the analysis of the geographical patterns of the decline of the species in Tasmania, which has lush remote forests that are difficult to access.
According to the study, there were spikes in sightings by experts and the general public between 1940 and 1999, after which they began to decrease remarkably until the present.
“Due to deliberate persecution from the 19th century onwards (encouraged by government and private bounties, paid out from 1888 to 1909), incidental snaring and trapping by fur traders, occasional capture for the zoo trade, habitat modification and possibly disease, the Thylacine had declined to extreme rarity by the early 20th century,” the study noted.
The thylacine, a marsupial with stripes across its lower back, once lived on mainland Australia and the island of New Guinea, although it disappeared from those places about 3,000 years ago due to climate change.
The island of Tasmania was the only place where the species survived, but its extinction accelerated with the 18th century arrival of Europeans. EFE