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Wildlife expert pours cold water on claims Tasmanian tiger family spotted

Zoologist says the animals seen in the Thylacine Awareness Group’s video are most likely pademelons

A wildlife expert has dismissed claims of a sighting of the extinct Tasmanian tiger, declaring the animals photographed were most likely pademelons.

Devotees of the extinct Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, were abuzz this week with the potential new discovery that, if confirmed would have brought the animal back from the dead.

The Thylacine Awareness Group of Australia, an amateur not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the elusive creature, claimed it had photographic evidence of three thylacines living happily in north-east Tasmania.

In a video posted to YouTube, the group’s president, Neil Waters, said a camera trap had captured photos of a family of three thylacines, including a baby, which was “proof of breeding”.

But Nick Mooney, honorary curator of vertebrate zoology at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery reviewed and assessed the material provided by Waters.

In a statement, TMAG said Mooney had “concluded that based on the physical characteristics shown in the photos provided, the animals are very unlikely to be thylacines, and most likely Tasmanian pademelons”.

“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.”

The thylacine is believed to have been extinct since 1936, when the last living thylacine, Benjamin, died in Hobart zoo. But unconfirmed sightings have regularly been reported for decades.

In 2017, scientists from James Cook University in Queensland also conducted a search for the marsupial after multiple “plausible” sightings.

A 2019 document from Tasmania’s Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment revealed there had been eight claimed sightings of the thylacine between 2016 and 2019.

Forrest Galante, an American television host with the Animal Planet channel, added to the earlier hype when he shared the video about the potential “wildlife rediscovery of the century” on Twitter.

Hold onto your hats ladies and gentlemen, this has potential to be the wildlife rediscovery of the century!

Nick Mooney is a colleague and an extremely reputable wildlife biologist. If he verifies it, then it is confirmed!!

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