Tasmanian Tiger
Tasmanian TigerWikimediacommons

The Tasmanian tiger has been extinct since 1986 – or so we're led to believe.

Despite the dog-like animal, native to Australia seemingly disappearing all those years ago, there have been a number of sightings of the animal over recent years. The tigers, or thylacines, were believed to have disappeared more than 80 years ago, with the last known individual dying in captivity in September 1936. It was not until 50 years later that the official declaration came out that the species was extinct.

The Tasmanian tiger was actually not a tiger, nor a wolf, but actually a dog-sized marsupial that had stripes along its back, which made it look like a tiger. It was long believed that disease was the cause of its extinction, but reports suggested that from 1886, the Tasmanian government encouraged residents to hunt down the Tasmanian tigers, and even rewarded those that could prove they had more than 2,000 carcasses.

Since then, however, sightings of the majestic animal have been more and more common. In 1995, a park ranger thought he saw a Tasmanian tiger in Tasmania itself. Two years later, a similar report came from Indonesia.

Notable sightings

2000

A sighting was reported near Mundrabilla, in west Australia in the year 2000. The reporter, anonymous, said that they had just seen a documentary about the species, and thought the animal he saw was an exact copy of it.

"At the time I didn't know what it was," they wrote to the Thylacine Research Unit. "My initial impression was it looked like a prehistoric creature.

"It had a head much larger than most dogs, even pitbull. There were very distinctive stripes on its back end and it had a very thick tail."

2006

Tasmanian tiger
The Tasmanian tiger was last seen in 1936Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office/Flickr

In 2006, four separate sightings of the tiger were reported near Portland, Southern Australia, in just three months.

One of the people claiming to spot the fabled animal, Anthony Ersello, told Cryptoworld.co.uk: "I'd been walking home from a party, had one beer and was walking home when I saw it on the road sitting in the middle of the intersection. It kept staring into the distance and then looked at me."

Ersello said that he wanted to take a photograph of the animal, but when he got within 15m of it, it ran off into the bushes. He added that he didn't know what it looked like, although it seemed "like a bit of a dog but it didn't really look like one."

2007

A mother and two children were driving to the beach when a four-legged animal ran out ahead of them, in Anglesea, Victoria. They immediately started to eliminate animals aloud, thinking it could not be a dog, or a cat, or a deer.

The mother said: "It was the most stunning thing I have ever seen because I was so in shock. Later we googled Tasmanian tiger and I am still 100% convinced that is what I saw because the diagrams and the distinctive features all matched."

2015

In July 2015, Tasmanian tiger hunter Michael Moss, claimed to have dashboard camera footage of the elusive carnivore.

"I've got footage of what I believe is one crossing a paddock in the Strezlecki Ranges, near Wilsons Promontory," said Moss. "Most reports to date have been of animals near or crossing roads ... with the advent of dashboard cameras in cars, I think we will see some concrete evidence before much longer."

Just one month later, another sighting was reported in Southeast Tasmania. Two separate witnesses claimed to spot a tiger when they were driving home. The official report said: "A fast moving object running on all fours came out of a driveway and started running up the road in the direction we were heading.

"It was a light fawn colour and had dirty light grey stripes/ saddle on its back. Not bold black stripes like some pictures show of tigers."

2016

On January 4, a caravan park owner from Victoria claimed to spot one of the extinct animals roaming about one of his sites. "It didn't look like a dog, didn't look like a cat, didn't look like a fox, it looked like a Tasmanian Tiger," caravan park owner Tony Holgate told 7 News.

However, Marissa Parrot, Melbourne Zoo's reproductive biologist thinks he probably just saw a sick fox. "If (foxes) have a disease called mange, they can get a striped appearance and a thin tail, it can be mistaken for a Tasmanian Tiger." Holgate wants the Australian government to investigate the sighting.