Tuesday, February 23, 2021

No, the Tasmanian tiger has not been re-discovered


No, the Tasmanian tiger has not been re-discovered


A leading Tasmanian tiger expert says new images purportedly of the extinct thylacine are, in fact, of a totally different species.

Neil Waters, president of the Thylacine Awareness Group of Australia, released a video on Monday claiming he had new images of a baby Tasmanian tiger, taken from a camera trap in north-east Tasmania.

Mr Waters said the images had been authenticated by a veterinarian, and he had submitted them to Nick Mooney, honorary curator of vertebrate zoology at the Tasmanian Museum.

But on Tuesday afternoon, the museum released a statement saying the images did not show a Tasmanian tiger at all.


“Nick Mooney has concluded, that based on the physical characteristics shown in the photos provided by Mr Waters, the animals are very unlikely to be thylacines, and are most likely Tasmanian pademelons,” a museum spokesman said.

“TMAG regularly receives requests for verification from members of the public who hope that the thylacine is still with us. However, sadly, there have been no confirmed sightings documented of the thylacine since 1936.”

A pademelon is a small wallaby.

The thylacine, also known as the Tasmanian Tiger, went extinct in 1936, when the last surviving member of the species died in Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart.

The creatures looked similar to dogs – they are often called Tasmanian wolves – but had short ears, stripes, and on the females a pouch to carry offspring.

There were about 5000 in Tasmania at time of European settlement, but introduced animals, habitat destruction and hunting quickly pushed them to extinction.

In the video released by the Thylacine Awareness Group of Australia, titled WE FOUND A THYLACINE, Mr Waters strolls through “some little town that grows a bit of hops, for all the beer”. As he narrates the video – which appears to have been shot on a hand-held camera – Mr Waters drinks from a can of Boags Draught.

“In the last 10 days, I’ve probably been acting a bit weird,” he says. “That’s because, when I was checking the SD cards, I found some photos, that were pretty damn good.”

“I know what they are. And so do a few independent expert witnesses, expert canine judges, feline judges, and a vet. I have left the images with Nick Mooney from the museum. He’s having a look at them.

“I can tell you there is three animals. We ... believe the first image is the mum. We know the second image is the baby, because it’s so tiny. And the third image is the dad.

The mother and father are “ambiguous”, a broadly-smiling Mr Waters says. “However, the baby is not ambiguous. The baby has stripes, a stiff tail, the hock, the coarse hair, the right colour.

“Not only do we have a family walking through the bush, but we have proof of breeding.

“Congratulations everyone. We have done it. Cheers.”

Mr Waters has previously claimed his group spotted a thylacine in Adelaide in 2016. That sighting was dismissed by the South Australian Museum at the time.

Saturday, February 13, 2021




            An international group of primatologists led by the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) — with support from San Diego Zoo Global, the Columbus Zoo and GaiaZOO — are providing a new home for 25 monkeys that were confiscated from wildlife traffickers. The monkeys all appear to be young and suffering from malnourishment and stress. They represent six different species native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This confiscation is one of the largest in recent years, and reflects the crisis in criminal trafficking that is hitting Africa’s native wildlife.

            “This is the largest rescue in our 20-year history,” said Gregg Tully, executive director of PASA. “The monkeys were poached in DRC and then driven along a known route for traffickers. We’re grateful that authorities in Zimbabwe confiscated the animals. Otherwise, they would be sent to China or a tourist attraction, with no possibility of being reintroduced to the wild.”

            PASA’s goal is to return the young primates to their native country, where they can be placed in an accredited sanctuary. The group has been collaborating with the leaders of Jeunes Animaux Confisques au Katanga (J.A.C.K.), a PASA-accredited sanctuary in Lubumbashi, DRC that has experience caring for and rehabilitating chimpanzees. The long-term goal is to re-wild these individuals, which include lesula monkeys, Allen’s swamp monkeys, gray-cheeked mangabeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, putty-nosed monkeys and golden-bellied mangabeys. The monkeys will be given appropriate medical care at J.A.C.K., and assessed for their readiness to return to native habitat. To accommodate such a large group at one time, the team determined that new facilities needed to be constructed.

            “We’re creating state-of-the-art enclosures for these monkeys,” said Franck Chantereau, president and founder of J.A.C.K. “Thanks to the funding we received, we were able to move quickly; and we’re excited about this progress, but we aren’t taking anything for granted. Too many lives are on the line.” 

            San Diego Zoo Global, the Columbus Zoo and GaiaZOO responded to the immediate need by providing funding for the enclosures and ongoing care of the group of youngsters. 

            “Our organization is very involved in the effort to stem the tide of wildlife trafficking,” said Dean Gibson, director of primates at San Diego Zoo Global. “We regularly provide refuge for wildlife that have been confiscated in the United States. Although it has been a difficult year for our organization due to COVID closures, when I alerted our leadership to the plight of these young monkeys, they thought it was important for us to contribute to their rescue.”

            San Diego Zoo Global supports work with communities in Cameroon’s Ebo Forest, with efforts to both protect primates and their habitat. 

            “We have been working with local communities in Cameroon for years, to promote forest health and protect the gorilla and chimpanzee populations that call the Ebo Forest home,” said Megan Owen, Ph.D., corporate director of wildlife conservation science at San Diego Zoo Global. “Understanding that we need to restore species and protect ecosystems in order to have a healthy world is important to us.”

Peter Dickinson
Independent International Zoo Consultant