Australian Farmer Shares Photo of Possible Tasmanian Tiger near Clifton Springs, Victoria
Australian farmer Peter Groves said he was out walking near Clifton Springs in Victoria, Australia on January 4th when he encountered an unusual quadruped. According to Groves, he managed to take out his cell phone to snap a picture of the creature, which some are saying is a surviving member of the thylacine species—also known as a Tasmanian tiger.
Groves said the animal was "funny looking," and described it as having a "big long tail and slumpy ears." Despite any lingering doubts, Groves does believe it’s possible he’s photographed a thylacine.
"It could just be a mangy fox, but it seems to be bigger than a fox and it's not shy," he told the Geelong Advertiser. “The picture I've got; even though it's a bit fuzzy because it was taken on my mobile, it actually shows the features of the animal quite well.”
The farmer was reportedly walking on a path between Beacon Point and Portarlington when he spotted the animal down a gorge—his second such sighting within several weeks.
"There is a lot of bush and a lot of cover and I think it's living quite comfortably there," said Groves.
An enlargement of the creature from Groves’ photo (left) next to an image of a thylacine (right) from the 2011 movie The Hunter (Madmen Entertainment).
But certain aspects of Groves’ story and the accompanying photograph give some fortean researchers pause.
“I'd say, while it's nice to see the photo attempting to showcase the entire animal and not just a small frame of it like so many other photos of ‘extinct’ animals typically do, the lack of clear definition makes me pause,” said Adam Benedict of the Pine Barrens Institute. “The current camera options available on modern phones typically provide a lot more definition than what we were provided with. This, along with only one photograph being taken from a supposedly long sighting, makes me think this is a clever manipulation of a possible movie still or perhaps an entirely different animal.”
“It keeps coming across to me like a still from the movie The Hunter,” he continued. “The one where Willem Dafoe is hired to capture the last remaining thylacine. [The image is] not an exact match at all, but digital manipulation could have been used to change it up.”
The low quality of the photograph and the farmer’s own doubts could be part of a clever yarn he’s spinning.
“Number one part about selling a hoax is making everything you say sound as authentic and believable as possible,” said Benedict. “Not saying this is [a hoax], just saying it's a big part of it.”
For now, the photograph’s veracity remains a mystery.
The last known thylacine died in captivity in 1936, but held its status as an endangered species until the 1980s, and many scientists believe there is a strong possibility that some survived into the 1960s—although no hard evidence exists to support that hypothesis. Their status today is still hotly debated, but some mainstream scientists take the issue seriously enough to investigate it, including these two Australian academics that the Singular Fortean Society reported on back in March of 2017. Meanwhile, several instances of video and photographic evidence featuring supposed thylacines came out of Australia in 2017, with trail camera footage and pictures submitted by the Thylacine Awareness Group of Australia in the same month a schoolteacher claimed that he had taken a video of a thylacine while filming the sunrise, and later that year a trio of investigators claimed to have captured footage of a Tasmanian Tiger. And in June of 2018, a Sydney man shared footage from his home surveillance camera of a peculiar animal that some thought resembled a thylacine.
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