STAGGERING footage of what appears to be a living Tasmanian tiger has been released in Hobart.

The footage is being touted as the best possible evidence that thylacines still exist - eight decades after they were presumed extinct.

The footage purports to show a thylacine from a distance at dusk on November 4 last year.

It was taken by three Tasmanian men - Adrian Richardson, Greg Booth and his father George Booth.

Mr Richardson has been hunting thylacines for 26 years.

"I don't think it's a thylacine ... I know it's a thylacine," he said.

He said the area of the find needs to be kept secret and protected.

Released on the eve of National Threatened Species Day, the footage was shown to the media today at the premises of an established Hobart legal firm, Murdoch Clarke Lawyers.

It was shot in Tasmanian wilderness in November and has been shrouded in secrecy since.

Retired wildlife biologist Nick Mooney believes the chances the thylacine continuing to roam are about 30 per cent. Picture: MATHEW FARRELL
Retired wildlife biologist Nick Mooney believes the chances the thylacine continuing to roam are about 30 per cent. Picture: MATHEW FARRELL

Wildlife biologist Nick Mooney, who has spent decades investigating tiger sightings, says the chances of the thylacine continuing to roam are about 30 per cent.

Mr Mooney, who has retired from the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, is still called upon for expert opinion on occasional thylacine "sightings", possible droppings and footprints.

But, to date, there has been no verifiable evidence of the continued existence of thylacines.

Official accounts suggest the thylacine became extinct on the Australian mainland more than 2000 years ago, although unverified "sightings" occur across many states of Australia from time to time.

The new video comes on the anniversary of the death of the last known thylacine at the Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart on September 7, 1936.

That last captive thylacine, known as Benjamin, was trapped in the Florentine Valley, west of Hobart, in 1933.

A video of Benjamin pacing around a zoo cage, where he spent his final three years, is the last definite footage of a Tasmanian tiger.

Although a thylacine population survived in Tasmania long after the demise of their mainland cousins, a bounty was placed on their heads in the 19th century because they were believed to be responsible for sheep deaths.

The population went into rapid decline and the Tasmanian Government introduced official protection for the species in 1936, just two months before the last known thylacine died in captivity.

Searches for the thylacine have continued ever since, with some enthusiasts adamant they have seen living thylacines in recent decades.

Tasmanian thylacine expert Col Bailey, who has dedicated most of his life to searching for the mysterious animal, last saw what he believes was a thylacine in 1995.

Mr Bailey is certain thylacines continue to exist in Tasmania.

The only academic search for thylacines currently underway in Australia is in Queensland.

Historic reports of thylacine sightings have flooded James Cook University in recent months after researchers announced plans, earlier this year, for a field survey in the wet tropics to hunt the marsupial. The researchers plan to place 50-100 trail cameras in secret locations in the far north from October.

Meanwhile, South Australia's water authority has geared up with new DNA sampling technology to test conclusively whether or not that state's recent thylacine sightings are based on fact.

News Corp Australia

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