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Tasmanian tiger sightings: You're not nuts

Posted: Thu Dec 01, 2016 5:18 pm
by Cittamani

Found this really interesting article in the online The Guardian:-


URL:- ... heyre-nuts

[Begin Quoted Material]

"Tasmanian tiger sightings: 'I represent 3,000 people who have been told they’re nuts'"
by Elle Hunt 1 December 2016

" Six years ago Neil Waters moved to Tasmania. There, he says, he had a “brief encounter” with a thylacine, the carnivorous marsupial known as the Tasmanian tiger, declared extinct in 1986.

Two years later, in January 2014, he was doing work on his house when a smaller animal walked up a dirt track leading out of a tin mine and past his bedroom window.

He was a “little bit uninformed” back then, he says, and did not take any photographs. Now living in Adelaide, where he works as a gardener, he has been making up for it as the founder of the Thylacine Awareness Group. The group is “dedicated to the research, recognition and conservation of our most elusive apex predator”.

The group has just over 3,000 members on Facebook, some based as far away as Canada and the UK. Some share their sightings of an animal believed to have died out with the last individual in a Hobart zoo in 1936.

Why don’t we grieve for extinct species?
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Some stories are now decades old and have taken on the quality of well-worn anecdotes. (“We were two young 23-year-olds at the time and we went on holidays towing our little caravan … ”)

But other people, Waters says, had never spoken of their sightings before he gave them an opportunity to do so with the group, a “little comfort zone for sightings”.

“When you’re looking at something that’s not meant to exist, it tends to make you not believe your eyes, I suppose,” he says.

“A lot of people, when they describe a sighting to me, they say, ‘I couldn’t believe what I was looking at … They’re not meant to exist, but I’ve seen them.’”

Not only are Waters and his supporters convinced the last thylacine did not die in 1936, they say it is even more prominent in mainland Australia, where it is believed to have become extinct at least 2,000 years ago.

He says there have been more than 5,000 reported sightings of thylacines in the past 80 years. It’s a tough sell, he admits. He has been criticised by scientists. He cheerily describes his views –adopting the words of others – as “outlandish”.

But what would people have to gain by lying?

“The sad part is, we haven’t found a dead one lying on the side of the road,” he says. “Then we’d have some proof. The sightings people convey to me, they’re sincere.”

Almost 100 people attended the group’s first meet-and-greet event, held in Adelaide on Sunday – among them a woman who told Waters of seeing a thylacine 50 years ago.

“She’d never told anyone in her life … people don’t have any reason to make these things up, they’re not looking for attention, they’re just looking for someone not to laugh at them.”

Tickets to the event were $8 each, with proceeds to be put towards an upcoming documentary that Waters is producing. He is interested to hear from collaborators, preferably Australians (“the Americans tend to sensationalise things a bit too much for my liking”).

A drawcard at the event was the premiere of new footage, shot in Western Australia by a woman who says she has seen thylacines “several times” on her property. It was uploaded to YouTube late on Monday.

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Since then, debate has raged as to whether the video shows a thylacine, or a fox with mange. A meme reading “one does not simply dismiss a sighting as a mangy fox” drew a supportive response from members.

The Tasmanian tiger becomes extinct - a picture from the past
On 7 September 1936, the death of the last officially recorded thylacine occurred at Hobart Zoo in Tasmania

Read more
Waters admits that the video, like much of the footage shared by the Facebook group, is “ambiguous”, proving nothing other than that there are animals in Australia that resist ready classification.

But that, he says, should be enough to invigorate interest in the possibility that thylacines – or, alternatively, animals “that have not yet been described by science” – exist on the mainland.

The scientific community remains resistant (and “usually not very polite”).

“But no one wants to actually get off their bum and come for a walk through the bush and have a look with me,” he says. “I don’t really mind being the butt of all their jokes but I guarantee that if we find one they’ll all want to be my best friend then.”


Waters has trail cameras installed, potential den sites he keeps an eye on, and a huge network of people all over Australia “contributing information on a daily basis”.

His motivation is not financial, “just for the vindication of people who’ve been told they’re bonkers”.

“I represent 3,000 people who have been told they’re nuts, basically.”

So convinced are scientists of the thylacine’s extinction, discussion in recent years has centred on whether it could be resurrected by cloning. In 2008 a gene was successfully inserted into a mouse embryo from fragments taken from 100-year-old specimens preserved in ethanol.

Andrew Pask, the projector’s team leader and a developmental biologist at the University of Melbourne, says technology is not yet at the point where it is possible to clone a thylacine anew, but that the animal’s entire DNA has been sequenced.

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For science to accept that the Tasmanian tiger lives on today, says Pask, it needs irrefutable evidence. “I would love, love, love to believe they’re still out there, but unfortunately I think all of the evidence points to the contrary on that front.”


He has been sent many samples of scat found in Tasmania to test in his laboratory. “I’m quite tired of people sending me big bags of poo in the mail,” he says. “None of them are ever thylacines’.”

Waters himself has gathered some 20 specimens that he is hoping to get tested. “It might be that ‘it’s from a marsupial and it’s unknown’ is as conclusive as they can get,” he says.

But that would still be progress, given that it would reaffirm his conviction there are large unknown fauna in Australia.

That seems possible when he points out that species thought to have declined or become extinct have been rediscovered.

It seems less likely when he also points out there have been between 5,000 and 7,000 recorded sightings of big cats in Australia.

“I’m a firm believer in thylacines, and I’m a firm believer in big cats, for the record,” he says.

What else does he believe in?

“Umm, three meals a day and a happy, healthy, stress-free life as much as possible.” "

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(Hope this helps anyone who has been told they're "nuts" after recounting their strange cryptozoological sighting !
And Kudos to Neil Waters, defender of the disenfranchised Thylacine witnesses!)

Re: Tasmanian tiger sightings: You're not nuts

Posted: Thu Dec 01, 2016 5:24 pm
by Cittamani
(Apologies:- It was a bit of rough copy & paste I submitted - I overlooked removing the "Advertisement" inserts from the text.........just in case anyone is confused)

Re: Tasmanian tiger sightings: You're not nuts

Posted: Thu Dec 01, 2016 9:51 pm
by Searcher
Thanks for that Cittamani. There's some really good info there for thylacine enthusiasts.

Wouldn't it be nice to one day find enough irrefutable evidence to silence all those doubting Thomas types!

Re: Tasmanian tiger sightings: You're not nuts

Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2017 9:37 pm
by Simon M
I think the Thylacine situation is obscured by the authorities due to the political situation in Tassie - too many people would lose money (the logging industry, most notably) if an area was declared protected due to the suspected presence of these animals.

On the mainland, it's much like the Yowie situation - it's just not something the majority of the population want to accept or even think about. I'm sure there are Thylacines in mainland Australia, and other things besides, but there aren't enough people who are interested so it stays under the general public's radar. The media don't help much, either, by treating sightings as a curiosity or a joke rather than an actual possibility.

Re: Tasmanian tiger sightings: You're not nuts

Posted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 7:02 pm
by sensesonfire
I do believe that there are Thylacines out there in Tasmania and also in WA although I'm thinking that it's a little like yowies on the mainland we see them but no irrefutable evidence to satisfy the sceptics that they exist. One question I ask myself is why Thylacines are not being seen in increasing numbers. I would have thought that by now the breeding would have increased to a level of exposure even allowing for the Tasmanian wilderness being a very large area. Just like Yowies no dead Tassie Tigers have been found to quash any non-believers so until this happens there will always remain an element of doubt.

Re: Tasmanian tiger sightings: You're not nuts

Posted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 3:31 am
by Simon M
I suppose only a few people are actively looking for them in Tasmania, and even fewer here on the mainland. It was different when they were being sought after by large numbers of hunters who wanted to be paid the bounty (£1.00 per head), but I suppose it's like all these reports of cryptids; as you say, there's just not enough evidence to constitute solid proof of their continued presence.