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HISTORY:
- EXTINCTION VS. SURVIVAL -
(page 13)
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1936 to present (continued):

    No account of post-1936 thylacine sightings would be complete without mention of the Hans Naarding sighting along the Salmon River Road to the south of Togari in 1982, and the Beasley sighting near Pyengana in 1995, as both were made by experienced park rangers.

   Hans Naarding was an experienced field ranger with the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Department, which makes this sighting one of the most credible to date.  Naarding states:

    "It was raining heavily.  At 2 am I awoke and out of habit, scanned the surrounds with a spotlight.  As I swept the beam around, it came to rest on a large thylacine, standing side on some six to seven metres distant.  My camera bag was out of immediate reach so I decided to examine the animal carefully before risking movement.  It was an adult male in excellent condition with 12 black stripes on a sandy coat.  Eye reflection was pale yellow.  It moved only once, opening its jaw and showing its teeth.  After several minutes of observation I attempted to reach for my camera bag but in doing so I disturbed the animal and it moved away into the undergrowth.  Leaving the vehicle and moving to where the animal disappeared I noted a strong scent.  Despite an intensive search no further trace of the animal could be found".

location of the town of Togari (Tasmania)
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Location of the town of Togari (Tasmania).
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Recreation of Hans Naarding's 1982 thylacine sighting at Togari, by Arnfinn Holderer (2016), with technical contributions from C. Campbell and Dr. S. Sleightholme.  Click gear button in lower right corner and select "?" to view control options for movement.  This animation is copyright and unauthorized use strictly prohibited.
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    This sighting was kept confidential for two years whilst an extensive field search was carried out over an area of 250km2 (155mi2), but despite best efforts, no evidence was found of the thylacine.

    That said, the official government report into the sighting states: "It was concluded that the search area was used irregularly by thylacines up until autumn 1982 but use has diminished due to increased disturbance to the point that detection of animals is not probable, despite large efforts".  Importantly, the report concludes: "Unless the thylacine observed in March 1982 by the Service biologist was the last of the species it must be accepted that thylacines survive in a number of areas of Tasmania".

    One could argue that if this was the official conclusion reached on the Naarding sighting, why then is the 1936 extinction date so readily accepted?  If the thylacine was believed to be extant in 1982, the species could not have officially been declared extinct until 2032, if the old IUCN 50-year rule (applicable at that time) was applied.

    Charles Beasley was a summer Interpretative Ranger with the Department of Environment & Land Management based at St Helens on the East Coast of Tasmania.  On the 25th January 1995, he claims to have seen what he believed to be a juvenile thylacine at a site inland from St Helens in the dry sclerophyll forest in the Pyengana region.

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location of Pyengana (Tasmania)
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Location of Pyengana (Tasmania).
    The sighting occurred just before dusk at 20:15 hours.  Beasley was alone, sitting, bird watching across a valley using 8 x 40 power binoculars.  At 20:15 he noticed an animal standing sniffing the air on a ledge 350 metres away.  Beasley was sitting below the ledge and therefore could not see the animal's legs and feet.  He described the animal as: "dirty brown in colour with black stripes down its rib cage and about half the size of a full grown Alsatian dog.  It had a face like a Staffordshire bull terrier but more elongated.  The animal stretched, turned and walked back into dense scrub, the tail was heavy and somewhat like that of a kangaroo and was held out in a gentle curve".  Beasley estimates to have viewed the animal for two minutes and there were no further sightings of the animal in the following 15 minutes until he left.

    Following the sighting, heavy rains in the area obliterated any possible evidence of tracks.  An official search was carried out, but no evidence was found of the thylacine.

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    It should be noted that Nick Mooney of the Parks & Wildlife Department commented in a later television documentary that Mr. Beasley was employed as a "seasonal" or "temporary" ranger with the Department, and fairly inexperienced in identifying wildlife.  He also questioned the reliability of a sighting at over 350 metres.

    In May 2002, an environmental scientist on a field trip to Tasmania sighted a juvenile thylacine, and on the following day, an adult.  These sightings, together with a wealth of sub-proof evidence, resulted in the publication of a free online book entitled "Magnificent Survivor - Continued Existence of the Tasmanian Tiger", which all with an interest in the thylacine should read.

    From the wealth of sightings evidence, it can be seen that considerable doubt exists to presume that the thylacine became extinct with the death of Benjamin in 1936. Sleightholme & Campbell (2015) state: "with near certainty" that this was not the case.  The "real" argument centres on whether the thylacine is now extinct, or critically endangered.   Over the last century, a number of species presumed to be extinct were rediscovered in the wild.  These are often referred to as "Lazarus" species:

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Mahogany Glider (Petaurus gracilis)
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Mahogany Glider
(Petaurus gracilis)
 
Extinct: 1886
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Rediscovered: 1989
Takahe (Porphyrio hochstetteri)
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Takahe
(Porphyrio hochstetteri)
 
Extinct: 1898
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Rediscovered: 1948
Laotian Rock Rat (Laonastes aenigmamus)
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Laotian Rock Rat
(Laonastes aenigmamus)
 
Extinct: fossil record
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Rediscovered: 1996
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Cuban Solenodon (Atopogale cubanus)
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Cuban Solenodon
(Atopogale cubanus)
 
Extinct: 1890
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Rediscovered: 1974
Bermuda Petrel (Pterodroma cahow)
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Bermuda Petrel
(Pterodroma cahow)
 
Extinct: 1620
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Rediscovered: 1951
Madagascar Serpent Eagle (Eutriorchis astur)
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Madagascar Serpent Eagle
(Eutriorchis astur)
 
Extinct: 1933
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Rediscovered: 1993
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Brindled Nail-tailed Wallaby (Onychogalea fraenata)
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Brindled Nail-tailed Wallaby
(Onychogalea fraenata)
 
Extinct: 1930
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Rediscovered: 1973
New Holland Mouse (Pseudomys novaehollandiae)
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New Holland Mouse
(Pseudomys novaehollandiae)
 
Extinct: 1843
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Rediscovered: 1967
Gilbert's Potoroo (Potorous gilbertii)
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Gilbert's Potoroo
(Potorous gilbertii)
 
Extinct: 1874
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Rediscovered: 1994
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Leadbeater's Possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri)
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Leadbeater's Possum
(Gymnobelideus leadbeateri)
 
Extinct: 1909
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Rediscovered: 1961
Yellow-tailed Woolly Monkey (Lagothrix flavicauda)
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Yellow-tailed Woolly Monkey
(Lagothrix flavicauda)
 
Extinct: 1812
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Rediscovered: 1974
Arakan Forest Turtle (Heosemys depressa)
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Arakan Forest Turtle
(Heosemys depressa)
 
Extinct: 1908
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Rediscovered: 1994

    Like the thylacine, the majority of the mammals on the "Lazarus" list are both nocturnal and forest or forest edge dwellers.  Most are timid, and consequently, rarely seen.  A population within this group that is easy to sample is rare.  Animals move - sometimes over enormous distances, habitats are difficult or impossible to access, and entire populations may be adept at avoiding capture.  For most populations, it is impossible to count every individual.  These factors may provide some explanation as to why so many species, including the thylacine, "disappear" from the zoological record for many decades before being rediscovered.

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References
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