MOSCOW—After several claims that the extinct Tasmanian Tiger has been seen in the wild, scientists are preparing to mount a hunt to affirm the legendary animal’s return.
The last Tasmanian Tiger, actually a marsupial and not a cat — even though it looks a lot more like a dog — died in a zoo in 1936, after predation and habitat loss over the 19th and 20th centuries weakened the species.
A former ranger in the isolated island state just south of Australia confirmed that local aborigines had made multiple, but unsubstantiated, claims of seeing the elusive creature in recent years.
“They pretty well confirmed that they know about a dog-like creature — not a dingo — that’s often seen at night,” he said, according to the National Post, adding, “They call it the ‘moonlight tiger.'”
Two researchers from James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, will begin evidence-based research in April when heavy river flooding in the dense jungles of the island recedes.
Professor Bill Laurance, one of the two, is hopeful but has expressed doubt that the animals could survive in such low numbers.
“Everything is being handled with strict confidence, so we won’t be able to say exactly where we are conducting the surveys aside from it being on the Cape York Peninsula,” he said.
The precise location of the sightings has been kept under strict secrecy.