Is it possible that a Tasmanian tiger could be alive and living in the NSW Northern Rivers?
Although studies have indicated the thylacine's extinction from the mainland for over 2000 years, sightings of the animal are regularly reported from around the country, including the Northern Rivers where around 70 records have been received by ABC North Coast radio Wildlife Wednesday host Gary Opit.
While scientists keep the nation’s hopes up by conceding the difficulties of identifying a nocturnal animal in dense bushland at night, the question remains, with so many mobile phones and camera across the continent why have the numerous sightings not yet included irrefutable evidence of the tiger's existence?
While photographs can be readily questioned, there is in fact a video from Queensland on line, which must at least raise the question - if that isn't some type of injured dog, what else could the creature possibly be? ( http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/animals/new-hunt-for-tasmanian-tigers-after-reported-sightings-inqueensland/news-story/675d325c9eaa86fbba6757a323a0f73e )
Together with numerous other sighting reports from Queensland, this brief footage has raised sufficient interest to send a team of researchers from the James Cook University into the remote north to try to track the animal down
Meanwhile other scientists maintain an open mind, and in Tasmania, where the last known Australian tiger died in the Hobart Beaumaris Zoo in 1936, thylacine researcher Colin Bailey believes the marsupial could still exist in that State, despite the more than 400 cameras set up around the forests at any one time.
Mr Bailey does though brush off the numerous sightings from the mainland as wishful thinking. And Tasmanian wildlife biologist Nick Mooney agrees with him, suggesting the many mainland sightings are proof only of Australia's addiction to new mobile technology.
In South Australia, SA Water is using new technology that identifies organisms that have been in contact with the State’s water, including thylacines, to analyse DNA from droppings thought to possibly have come from a Tasmanian tiger.
In Western Australia the Nannup community is so familiar with the animal that they hold an annual thylacine festival, which this year involved the launch of a manuscript Living the Thylacine Dream, by South Australian thylacine enthusiast Neil Waters documenting the many sightings in WA
In the Northern Rivers the most recent report, like many of the others, mentions an unfamiliar animal with a distinctive lumbering gait. This perfectly matches the image of the lumbering animal in the Queensland video, which appears to be using both hind legs together, almost as if on the way to evolving to hop.
In the meantime, with no news yet from the James Cook research team who were due to end their studies this month, it still must be admitted that the odds are heavily against a genuine true-blue thylacine ever turning up again.
But it would be very exciting to be wrong.