Yet it was only in 1986, fifty years after the death of the last known specimen, that the thylacine was declared lost to the world. Even now CITES, the international convention on flora and fauna, qualifies the tiger's status as only "possibly extinct." In the last half of the 20th century, reports continued to emerge from Tasmania's virgin wilderness of sightings of thylacines.
In 1957, a photograph was taken from a helicopter flying over the west of the island, of a "striped beast on the deserted beach." "It was probably a thylacine," the Belgian naturalist and cryptozoologist, Bernard Heuvlemans, claimed. "An expedition was at once mounted in order to capture a specimen, which would be released again after it had been studied." But despite the best efforts of a Disney film crew and an expedition led by Sir Edmund Hillary in 1960, no specimen was found.
However, in 1961 a pair of fishermen apparently came close to capturing one by accident when it was snared in a trap. The two men, Bill Morrison and Laurie Thompson, risked ridicule to talk to the Hobart Mercury. "The tail was rigid," said Morrison. "The animal's coat was dark, and I could discern only one stripe behind the shoulders and extending around the chest." The animal was understandably maddened, reported the newspaper, although the sound it made was "rather peculiar, and different from the barking of a dog." As the two men attempted to release it, it escaped -- although not at any great speed. "It seemed to be a slow mover," said Morrison.