AU$1.25M reward offer for proof of living Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacine)

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A Tasmanian Tiger
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Australian magazine The Bulletin has offered a reward of AU$1.25 million for conclusive proof that the legendary Tasmanian Tiger, or Thylacine, is still alive.

Says The Bulletin, "A live, uninjured animal must be produced. All government regulations and provisions must be adhered to. A panel of eminent experts chosen by us will have the final say - along with conclusive DNA testing."

Although the last confirmed wild Thylacine sighting was in 1932, and the last captive, named Benjamin, died in the Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart on September 6, 1936, the legend has lived on, with occasional claimed sightings both in Tasmania, and on mainland Australia.

As recently as February of this year, a German tourist claimed to have taken photographs of the creature near Lake St Clair in Tasmania. According to The Bulletin, over the past 70 years there have been more than 4000 claimed sightings, but not a single verifiable artifact of hard evidence.

Appearing like a large, striped dog, the thylacine was in fact a marsupial, with a pouch like a kangaroo or koala. Present on the Australian continent for tens of thousands of years, persecution by farmers, government-funded bounty hunters and, in the final years, collectors for overseas museums saw the remnant Tasmanian population wiped out.

Nick Mooney, a wildlife biologist with the Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, investigates 150 claims of sightings each year. He told The Bulletin he was open-minded to the possibility of the thylacine's survival, "But if I had to make a call, I'd put money on them not being out there."

The reward offer marks the 125th year of publication of The Bulletin magazine.