by Paul Alessi
Tasmanian Tiger ( Thylocenus cynocephalus)
A reward of $ 1.25 million was recently announced
by the Bulletin newspaper which is owned by
Kerry Packer for conclusive proof that the Tasmanian Tiger is not extinct. Another $1.75 million
was added to the reward by a Tasmanian tourist group, making the total $3 million.
The last known Thylocene died in the Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart on the 7th September 1936
( this day of the year is now celebrated as threatened species day in Australia )
but there have been around 4000 reported sightings since. A quick scan of the internet turned up
some interesting accounts of sightings not only from Tasmania but also from mainland Australia.
One lady in particular swears she saw one near a
supermarket in Brighton Le Sands N.S.W. which is not far from
Sydney's International airport and along the shores of Botany Bay. A Tasmanian Tiger
roaming suburban Sydney is of course unlikely and what this lady saw most likely involved a neighbourhood
dog and a couple of youths with spray cans but Thylocenes did roam mainland
Australia and New Guinea as little as 2,200 years ago and their fossil remains are sometimes
found during archeological digs or as mummified corpses in caves, the original author of this column
Dr Carina Clarke once found the dehydrated remains of a Thylocene whilst exploring a cave beneath the Nullabor
Plain in Western Australia.
Even though there have been Tassie Tiger reports
from as far away as the Northern Territory.
The most likely place for Thylocenes to have survived on the mainland might be in
an area of remote wilderness with climate similar to Tasmania, and parts of South Eastern Australia
definitely fulfill those requirements, there have been reports of Thylocene and Black Panthers in the forests
of Eastern Victoria and the Shoalhaven River Gorge has it's own folklore about Black Panthers, Bungonia Bears and
unknown creatures that make blood curdling screeches in the night.
Parts of the Morton National Park just over the
river gorge from us are extremely rugged and have
never been fully explored, there are sheer cliffs, steep, scree sided ravines and places simply
innacessable to man on foot. Windellama's extremely rare "Ice Age Gum" is a close relative
to some cold climate Tasmanian Eucalypts and maybe our district shares more than just similar
vegetation with Tasmania. I once had the rare experience of seeing a wild dingo up close in bush near to
the Shoalhaven gorge in Windellama, we both stopped in our tracks and stared at each other for a few moments
then he was silently on his way. I wonder what other seldom seen animals are out there.
The photo accompanying this article is of course
just a bit of digital mischief and if it were real
I would probably be lying on a beach somewhere enjoying the reward money but the fact remains
that it is more than likely Thylocenes roamed Windellama not that long ago.
Copyright Paul Alessi 2005
GO BACK TO INDEX