Thylacinus cynocephalus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Dasyuromorphia Thylacinidae

Scientific Name: Thylacinus cynocephalus (Harris, 1808)
Common Name(s):
English Thylacine, Tasmanian Tiger, Tasmanian Wolf
French Loup marsupial
Spanish Lobo de Tasamania, Lobo Marsupial
Didelphis cynocephala Harris, 1808
Taxonomic Notes: No subspecies are recognised.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Extinct ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2012-12-31
Assessor(s): Burbidge, A.A. & Woinarski, J.
Reviewer(s): Johnson, C.N. & Hawkins, C.
Contributor(s): Andrew, D., Jones, M., Mooney, N. & Rounsevell, D.
The last known Thylacine died in Hobart Zoo in 1936. Despite numerous, including contemporary, reports of its existence, and several organised searches (e.g. Smith 1980; see SEWPaC 2012), there has been no irrefutable evidence of its survival.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

The Thylacine was once found in New Guinea and was widespread on the Australian mainland, but disappeared from the latter by at least 2000 years ago, probably because of predation by and competition from the Dingo Canis lupus (Johnson 2006). In modern times it was known only from Tasmania, which was isolated from the Australian mainland c. 8000 – 10 000 years ago, before the arrival of the Dingo on the mainland. It was widespread in Tasmania, but most abundant in open forest and woodland (Guiler 1985; Paddle 2000). It occurred in most habitat types from low (east) to high (north-west) rainfall but at low densities in the south-west where rainfall is very high, soil fertility is very low, and vegetation is hummock grassland (button grass), wet scrub, or wet forest.

Countries occurrence:
Regionally extinct:
Australia (Tasmania)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:0
Number of Locations:0
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is presumed to be extinct.
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Thylacines occurred in most habitats in Tasmania, but apparently not the dense temperate rainforests of the south-west (Flannery and Schouten 2001). The Thylacine apparently located its prey by scent and hunted mainly at night, singly or in pairs. Its main food items were reported to be kangaroos and wallabies. Lairs were often located among rocks but litters were discovered amongst dense vegetation.
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There was extensive persecution of the Thylacine because of perceived threat to sheep and fear of a large predator (Mooney and Rounsevell 2008); in latter years collecting by museums and zoos was a major reason for hunting; single-species ‘population viability analysis’ models are unable to account for the Thylacine’s demise unless a high human harvest, small starting population size or low maximum population growth rate was assumed, even if disease effects were included from 1906 to 1909, however, the Thylacine's demise is readily recreated using the disease-free multi-species metamodels that simulated declines in native prey populations (particularly due to competition with introduced sheep) (Prowse et al. 2013).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: In 1936, the Thylacine received legal protection under Tasmanian law, although it was probably already extinct (Mooney and Rounsevell 2008). In 1966, a 647,000 ha game reserve was set up in south-western Tasmania, partly to protect any animals possibly remaining in the area. Currently there are no conservation measures pertaining to this species as it is presumed extinct. It is listed on CITES Appendix I.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability:Unknown season:unknown 
1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
suitability:Unknown season:unknown 
4. Grassland -> 4.4. Grassland - Temperate
suitability:Unknown season:unknown 

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.3. Agro-industry farming
♦ timing:Past, Unlikely to Return ♦ scope:Whole (>90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Past Impact 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.2. Competition

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.3. Persecution/control
♦ timing:Past, Unlikely to Return ♦ scope:Whole (>90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Past Impact 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

Bibliography [top]

Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. 2012. Thylacinus cynocephalus in Species Profile and Threats Database. Canberra Available at: (Accessed: 24 Mar 2012).

Flannery, T. and Schouten, P. 2001. A gap in nature: discovering the world’s extinct animals. Text Publishing, Melbourne.

Guiler, E. 1985. Thylacine: the tragedy of the Tasmanian Tiger. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-2. Available at: (Accessed: 04 September 2016).

Johnson, C., 2006. Australia’s mammal extinctions; a 50,000 year history. Cambridge University Press, Port Melbourne.

Maxwell, S., Burbidge, A.A. and Morris, K. 1996. The 1996 Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes. Australasian Marsupial and Monotreme Specialist Group, IUCN Species Survival Commission, Gland, Switzerland.

McKnight, M. 2008. Thylacinus cynocephalus. In 'The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species'. Version 2011.2. Available at: (Accessed: 24 March 2012).

Mooney, N. and Rounsevell, D. E. 2008. Thylacine, Thylacinus cynocephalus. In: S. Van Dyck and R. Strahan (eds), The mammals of Australia. Third Edition, pp. 167-168. Reed New Holland, Sydney, Australia.

Paddle, R. 2000. The last Tasmanian Tiger: the history and extinction of the Thylacine. Cambridge University Press, Oakleigh, Victoria.

Paddle, R. 2012. The thylacine's last straw: epidemic disease in a recent mammalian extinction. Australian Zoologist 36: 75-92.

Prowse, T.A.A., Johnson, C.N., Lacy, R.C., Bradshaw, C.J.A., Pollak, J.P., Watts, M.J. and Brook, B.W. 2013. No need for disease: testing extinction hypotheses for the thylacine using multi-species metamodels. Journal of Animal Ecology 82(2): 355-64.

Smith, S. J. 1980. The Tasmanian Tiger 1980: A report on an investigation of the current status of Thylacine Thylacinus cynocephalus. National Parks and Wildlife Service, Tasmania.

Citation: Burbidge, A.A. & Woinarski, J. 2016. Thylacinus cynocephalus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T21866A21949291. . Downloaded on 23 June 2018.
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