The Javan Tiger, a legendary Indonesian animal declared to have been extinct for over 40 years, may still be alive after park rangers at Ujung Kulon National Park claim to have spotted and photographed the species last month.
“This used to be Javan tiger habitat, and we hope that they’re still there.” Said Mamat Rahmat, Head of Conservation at Ujung Kulon National Park, as quoted by local media.
Last week, the pictures spread online, prompting both positive as well as skeptical reactions.
“When the video is frozen the effect is that it looks like a tiger,” said Wulan Pusparini, a tiger expert at the Wildlife Conservation Society. She added, however, that the animal in the footage closely resembles a leopard when moving.
Java used to be home to thousands of endemic species, but hunting and development have led to the extinction of many of the species, including Javan tiger.
Javan tigers, in particular, have been extinct for three generations, said Pusparini, who believes that the mysterious cat photographed in the picture was a Javan leopard, the last large carnivore on Java – also something worth getting excited about.
Pusparini added that she wished that the public would be as eager about protecting endangered animals, like the Javan leopard, as they are about discovering in extinct species.