Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Tiger photos sought by state
01 Mar 2005

THE Victorian man at the centre of the thylacine mystery was urged yesterday to release his hotly debated photographs for forensic examination.

The State Government said a letter would be sent to the man, urging him to "break his silence and make further contact with the state that the tiger called home".

This came as leading Tasmanian wildlife biologist Nick Mooney said the man's account of the sighting -- and two photographs submitted as proof -- amounted to one of the most
convincing cases for the species' survival that he had seen.

But the fundamental question of whether the digital images could be authenticated came no closer to being answered yesterday.

Acting Environment Minister Steve Kons said the Government and all Tasmanians were keen for answers.
"I appreciate that the man has come forward and contacted the scientists in the state initially but we need him now to release the images for further analysis," said Mr Kons,
adding it was equally possible it was a hoax.

It has been claimed the pictures were taken by the man's brother, described as a German tourist, while on a recent bushwalk in Tasmania.

Mr Mooney, as part of the Department of Primary Industries' Nature Conservation Branch, said he was in contact with the man.

Mr Mooney has investigated hundreds of thylacine sightings for the State Government and yesterday said this case was "particularly exciting".

"Even without the pictures involved, it was quite a detailed report as far as the animal goes," he said.

Mr Mooney said he would not reveal the identity of the man to allow independent questioning by the media.

Mr Mooney was part of the team of experts called to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery last week to inspect the photographs.

The team decided the animal pictured, though partially obscured, was unmistakably a thylacine.