A photo a Blacktip Island hiker captured Thursday, showing what he claims is an extinct Tasmanian tiger. (photo courtesy of Lee Helm)
A pair of Blacktip Island residents exploring the small Caribbean island’s rugged interior Thursday captured an image of what they claim is a long-thought-extinct thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger.
“We was out in the bush, looking for ghost orchids, when all of a sudden this thing just exploded out of the bushes,” Lee Helm said. “Me and Alison barely spotted it before it bolted off through that thick underbrush. Just had time to get the one photo, but it’s definitely a Tasmanian tiger. Nothing else it could be.
“There’s been reports of them popping up all over the world lately,” Helm said. “Just a matter of time before one came to Blacktip. They’re a migratory species, you know.”
Alison Diesel corroborated the story.
“It was plain as the nose on my face,” she said. “I only wish people’d stop saying it was spotted. It had stripes. Duh. And if there’s one, you know there’s more. That tangley brush on the bluff is the perfect place for them to hide. There’s plenty to eat, too, with iguanas and the landfill chickens.”
The island’s scientific community questioned the sighting.
“There are no records of any thylacines outside Tasmania for nearly 100 years,” wildlife biologist Fozzy Kritter said. “They’ve been extinct since the 1930s. And Tasmania’s an island on the other side of the globe. How would they migrate? Build a raft? There’s also been no verified thylacine sightings, or bones or skulls found, anywhere between Tasmania and here. I don’t know what Lee and Alison were smoking. Or photographed. It was probably a feral cat. In the photo, I mean.”
Helm and Diesel stood by their claims.
“Fozzy’s just hacked he didn’t see it first,” Diesel said. “And of course it didn’t build a raft. That makes zero sense. It hopped on a cargo ship. All kinds of exotic animals get here that way.
“Thylacines are quite clever,” Helm said. “Why do you reckon there’s none left in Tasmania? They knew folks were hunting them and hid in shipping containers. The next time this container was opened was here on Blacktip. No great mystery. And it’s not a Tasmanian tiger anymore. This is a Blacktip Tiger now.”
Diesel said the pair have launched plans to further substantiate their claim.
“We set up trail cameras all through that patch of jungle, and around the dump,” she said. “Only photos we got so far, though, were of Dermott Bottoms and James Conlee crawling on all fours, both drunk as skunks.
“We’re building live-capture traps, too,” she said. “Big enough to catch a tiger, but let the cats and iguanas and what-have-yous slip out.”