On the trail of the Tasmanian Tiger
The first sighting of a thylacine was recorded in The Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser of 21 April 1805 ‘An animal of a truly singular and nouvel description was killed by dogs the 30th of March on a hill immediately contiguous to the settlement at Yorkton Port Dalrymple’. A wonderfully detailed description can be found here.
The last tiger in captivity died in the Hobart Zoo in 1936 soon after it had been declared a protected species. Samples of blood and hair from one which was captured but later escaped from a shed in 1961 at Sandy Cape were said to be from a Tasmanian tiger.
'Whoever heard of a woman buying and selling tigers?' Mrs Roberts of Beaumaris, Hobart was paying country dealers eight to twenty pounds for tigers which she would then sell to collectors overseas for up to forty pounds. A description of one caught in a snare and added to her zoo can be found here. We can see the latest acquisition of the London Zoo in 1926 in this picture.
An advertisement placed by the Tasmanian Museum in 1945, seeks Thylacines dead or alive, while stating that they are wholly protected.
At the end of the second world war it was predicted that collecting institutions would again be after thylacines and other rare species for their collections.
The American Museum of Natural History has no less than 12 thylacine specimens including 2 live mounted skins.
Thylacines not captured for museum collections were being hunted towarsd extinction with a bounty being paid for their scalps. Others were being hunted for their skins; here Thomas Bather Moore is wearing a cap made from the skin of a Tasmanian Tiger.
The World Wildlife fund sponsored a hunt in 1980 to either film or catch a tiger. Wilf Batty, the man who allegedly shot the last tiger in 1930 is interviewed here.
There have been ongoing 'sightings' even on the mainland, including one near Lucindale in SA in 1967 and this one of the Tanatanoola tiger in 1908.
A rock art drawing of a thylacine can be found at Obiri Rock in the Kakadu National Park. The thyalcine was originally widespread over mainland Australia.
The Tasmanian tiger remains a feature of the Tasmanian Coat of Arms.
Well it is a real shame that we lost this species. I know some people hold out hope that they still exist in the wild.
The Tasmanian Tiger was probably pushed off the mainland because of the arrival of the Dingo and Aboriginal People tens of thousands of years ago. And recently was doomed when the white man arrived in Tas. What a shame.
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