James Cook University researchers are preparing to launch a scientific search for the Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacine) on the Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland.
The field survey will be led by Dr Sandra Abell, using more than 50 high-tech ‘camera traps’ to survey prospective sites on the Cape.
Co-investigator Professor Bill Laurance said he has spoken at length to two people in north Queensland who have provided plausible and detailed descriptions of animals that could potentially be Thylacines.
“One of those observers was a long-time employee of the Queensland National Parks Service, and the other was a frequent camper and outdoorsman in north Queensland.”
“All observations of putative Thylacines to date have been at night, and in one case four animals were observed at close range – about 20 feet away – with a spotlight.
“We have cross-checked the descriptions we received of eyeshine colour, body size and shape, animal behavior, and other attributes, and these are inconsistent with known attributes of other large-bodied species in north Queensland such as dingoes, wild dogs or feral pigs.”
Prof. Laurance said both observers are providing the research team with detailed information on the locations of the sightings, which are at two separate sites. “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.”
The research trip won’t begin until at least April as the team waits for the high river levels on Cape York to recede, and also to receive appropriate permits and landowner permissions for the search.
“Prof. Laurance said regardless of which species are detected, the survey will provide important data on the status of mammal species on Cape York, where wildlife populations have evidently been undergoing severe population declines in recent years.
The survey will be conducted under the auspices of the Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science (TESS) at James Cook University. This research is being conducted under its flagship project on “Northern Development and Imperiled Biodiversity”.