The press has been getting excited about another search for the thylacine, this time in far North Queensland. The following article from NPR is a good summary of the situation.
I remember, maybe twenty or so years ago, there was great excitement when the well preserved, mummified, corpse of a thylacine was discovered in a desert cave in southern Australia. When scientific dating was done the dead thylacine turned out to have been there for eight thousand years or thereabouts.
Over the years I have met a couple of individuals who had separate close range and unmistakable sightings of thylacine, similar to that described in the NPR article. These guys were sensible, experienced bushman and it was not until I had known each of them a long time that the story came out, a bit hesitantly, in one on one conversation.
When I asked each of them, at different times, had they reported their sightings the reply was an emphatic no! They were afraid of being labelled idiots and made fun of in the press. One chap said he did not even tell his wife for about it for ten years. The other chap was a reputed deer poacher of some renown in his younger years, so I expect he had other good reasons not to be putting his hand up either.
Mainland aboriginal art in southern areas does show thylacines and there is plenty of fossil evidence for their being a mainland species for millions of years. Curiously though, there seems to be no record of the aboriginal people having a folk memory of thylacine encounters in FNQ. That is a very telling argument in the case against the thylacine being around still.
Mind you, in my dealings with aboriginal people, I have discovered that they rarely volunteer anything without being asked precisely the right question. Sadly, history has taught the aboriginal peoples of the world to be very wary of any interest expressed by white fellas. So maybe, we just have not asked the appropriate old traditional owners the right question in the right way.
Like pretty much everybody, I would be thrilled if that ancient predator was still lurking about in the dense jungles of FNQ. Wikipedia have a lot more detail on the thylacine for anybody seeking some more detailed information on a rather amazing creature. By the way, wikipedia is a wonderful free resource that relies on public support – please make a donation to a keep great web resource available for all.