Researchers and naturalists have been full of hope for a few days now. Evidence from Taiwan suggests that this extinct panther, also called the Formosa panther, may have survived in the wild.
A glimmer of hope for the Formosa panther? Officially declared extinct in the wild since 2013, the animal could still be in the thick forests of Taiwan, hidden from all... until it was observed at the same time by several different witnesses, in the same region.
Yet hope seemed definitively abandoned. In fact, Neofelis nebulosa brachyura or the Formosa panther had not been seen in the wild since 1983, the date of the last verified and certified sighting. Thirty years later, it officially entered the long list of extinct species in the wild.
But despite everything, some researchers refused to believe in the disappearance of the animal, arguing that it was essentially nocturnal, discreet and especially avoided proximity to humans and their rampant urbanisation.
Can there be hope? Two rangers recently claimed to have seen panthers in the south of the country grappling with a herd of goats grazing on the cliffs of Darren. Two other witnesses, riding a scooter, reported a panther sighting in the same area at the same time.
Faced with these two encouraging testimonials, the authorities announced the organisation of search parties in an attempt to locate the animal.
Kao Cheng-chi, the head of a village of Austronesian aborigines, an original people of Taiwan whose presence on the island has been confirmed for about 5,000 years, told the local media about the organisation of this search, with the aim of identifying the animal, considered sacred by the locals.
However there is a ‘but.’ For some, these testimonies, encouraged by the native peoples of Taiwan, could really be only a territorial strategy.
Taiwan considers the panther to be a sacred animal, therefore its presence in the region where aborigines live is the ideal opportunity for them to prohibit access to said forests from visitors and tourism.
The native peoples would thus get their original territory back, regardless of whether there is a trace of Taiwan's panther in these virgin forests or not.
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