Footage released after ‘encounter’ with Tasmanian tiger

Tasmanian tiger: Trio release footage they claim is sighting of thylacineCredit: Booth Richardson Tiger TeamThree men have released footage of what they claim is a Tasmanian tiger – proof, they say, the animal is not extinct.
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Greg Booth, his father George “Joe” Booth and Adrian “Richo” Richardson on Wednesday revealed video and stills of what they say is a Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine.

But Tasmanian wildlife biologist Nick Mooney said there was a “one in three” chance the grainy footage showed a thylacine.

Mr Mooney said while it was “the most interesting bit of video I’ve seen”, the camera’s wide-angle lens distorted the image and the animal was “a bit small” to be thylacine.

“It’s not the sort of thing you’d bet on, even with someone else’s money,” he said.

Mr Mooney said the image more likely showed a spotted quoll – a species related to the thylacine and still native to Tasmania.

The last confirmed thylacine died in captivity in the Hobart Zoo in 1936.

The release of the footage comes one day before the 81st anniversary of the death of that thylacine.

The men, who call themselves Booth Richardson Tiger Team, are the latest of numerous people to claim proof of the thylacine’s continued existence.

Greg Booth, fromOuse in Tasmania’s Central Highlands, said he spotted the animal while out on a bush track with his father in April 2015.

Mr Booth refused to reveal exactly where he had seen the animal (he didn’t want the site disturbed), but said it was within 50 kilometres of Maydena, in the state’s south-west.

He was adamant he counted 11 stripes on the animal’sbody, which he said he saw for up to eight seconds.

“It had like a really big head, really long snout nose,” he said at a press conference in Hobart on Wednesday. “Its ears were not so much pointed but really flared.

“It had white around the eyes, really dark brown eyes, and set well back within the skull of the animal.

“I noticed the front legs of the animal and it was sitting down and actually looked at me. I was within eight to nine foot [about 2.5 metres] of the animal.

“So he sat down and I noticed his paws – he had fur over his paws.”

Mr Booth said he hardly slept for several nights after the sighting.

“You try to get a wink of sleep and you wake up thinking about it,” he said. “I still don’t believe it … but it was there.”

Mr Booth and his father set up cameras to record the animal. A year later, they sent footage to Mr Richardson, who had been researching thylacines for decades.

“Richo near dropped to the floor, I think,” Mr Booth said.

Mr Richardson agreed: “I knew then that it would change science on the animal.”

The group set up 14 $200 cameras to gather proof, sorting through up to 700 photographs at a time until switching to video.

They claim to have captured the animal on video last November.

Mr Booth said he never believed in the thylacine’s continued existence but had no doubt about what he saw.

“Cause I seen it. I know what it is,” he told journalists in Hobart.

The team claims to have heard two thylacines during site visits; sometimes barking, other times making a high, wolf-like call.

Mr Mooney said he couldn’t rule out the possibility the thylacine – like the recently rediscovered night parrot – might still exist.

The most probable outcome of the latest sighting, however, was a likely surge in thylacine hunters.

“Doubtlessly, it will bring them out of the woodwork,” he said.

– with Rob Inglis,The Examiner

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