The Tasmanian tiger is one of the most enigmatic species of wildlife in the history of the world.
More formally known as thylacines, the species is also known as the Tasmanian wolf or Tasmanian tiger due to both their resemblance to a wolf and the striped pattern along the back half of their bodies.
Whatever you want to call them, they are widely believed to be extinct due to overhunting and habitat loss.
They were once the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world. Thylacines were shy, nocturnal animals that were about the size of a medium to large sized dogs. They stood about 2-feet tall and weighed about 25 to 50-pounds.
But unlike a dog, they had a stiff tail and an abdominal pouch more like a kangaroo. The species was the apex predator throughout a native range that included the Australian mainland and the islands of Tasmania and New Guinea.
It is believed they preyed on mostly kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, birds and possums. It is also believed that the emu bird was one of their primary food sources, and the demise of thylacines possibly coincided with the collapse of emu populations.
The Last Of The Tasmanian Tigers
The last known thylacine was captured in Tasmania in 1930. The animal was brought into captivity and spent its later days in a Tasmanian zoo. Even though this footage is the last confirmed documentation of the species, various reports of the species clinging life deep in some of the most wild and rugged parts of the world still persist to this day.
This video of the last remaining Tasmanian tiger on Earth was been presented in color for the first time ever thanks to some amazing digitization work from the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. The footage was originally recorded in black and white in 1933.
The video was presented to the public for the very first time on September 7th in celebration of Australia’s “Threatened Species Day,” which is a holiday used to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the threatened species of today from becoming the extinct species of tomorrow.
The September 7th date of the holiday is commemorative of the day that the thylacine in this video, the last confirmed one to ever exist, perished in captivity.
Are They Extinct Or Not?
The species was driven to extinction on the Australian mainland long before they were driven to extinction on the island of Tasmania. At the time of this particular animal’s death, the zoo still believed they would be able to find another specimen in the wild to move into the zoo, but that plan never came to fruition.
Although the thylacine in this video was the last confirmed living specimen, rumors and folklore about the species began to grow almost immediately after its death in 1936.
In 1938, a thylacine was reportedly shot by a hunter in a remote region of Tasmania. A 1958 sighting of a thylacine from a helicopter pilot went unconfirmed. In 1961 an animal that was shot was tentatively confirmed as a Tasmanian tiger and the stories about the species persisting into the 1960’s continued to buzz.
From 1967 – 1973, an extremely extensive project was undertaken to determine once and for all of the species was still out there. Through exhaustive surveys and monitoring done via automatic field cameras and through following leads about reported sightings, the research team was unable to find any evidence that thylacines still existed in Tasmania.
Almost 600 camera traps were set up in a grid to try and capture footage of one of the creatures, but that magical photo never materialized.
Thylacines have been a major focus for a wildlife researcher and outdoor adventurer named Forrest Galante who studies species believed to be extinct, or on the brink of extinction. He also hosts a TV show on Animal Planet called “Extinct or Alive.”
Given his expertise on similar issues, the opinion of Galante carries more weight on the matter than most. His arduous field research has previously uncovered other species that the world literally left for dead and declared extinct, including a species of tortoise that had not been verified in more than a century… that is until he rediscovered one.
Galante previously spent 3-months in the Australian bush looking for any and all indications that thylacines are still out there and he discussed the species with People Magazine in 2019.
“I spent three months in the Australian bush looking for it, I have faith in that animal’s existence.”
He also previously discussed his search for the last remaining thylacines on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast: