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Tasmanian Tiger: Path to Extinction?

What brought on the extinction of the Tasmanian Tiger? Did they run out of habitat or did a bigger, larger predator threaten their livelihood? In this article, you will learn how a fascinating creature went from thriving millions of years ago to meeting an untimely death.

The downfall of the Tasmanian Tiger started with the increase of wild dogs and dingos in Australia. However, the worst blow that the creatures faced was the Europeans. Hunting in eucalyptus forests, coastal wetlands and open grasslands , the animals collided with the farmlands of European settlers. Seeing the Tiger as a threat to their livestock, bounties were placed on the heads of the animals. With guns in hand, farmers and bounty hunters took to the forests in search of the Tasmanian Tiger and thousands died in this manner.

By the time the 1920’s rolled around, to see a Tasmanian Tiger was quite rare. The last known Tiger killed in the wild was shot in 1930. According to farmer Wilf Batty, he had spotted the creature roaming about his house in Mawbanna for several weeks. He shot and killed the animal, which was identified as a male.

Only a handful thrived in zoos with the last known Tiger dying in captivity in 1936. In 1986, the animal was placed on a list as officially extinct. In order to receive this distinction, 50 years must pass without a sighting of an animal. However, reports of sightings and supposed tracks have still been reported throughout remote parts of Tasmania.

Unconfirmed Sightings

On file, the Australian Rare Fauna Research Association have received 3,800 reports of Tasmanian Tiger sightings about mainland Australia since the 1936 extinction date. Other research centers have a different number, such as the Mystery Animal Research Center of Australia, which has 138 claims up to 1998 on record. One of the most popular places that sightings take place is in Southern Victoria.

Over the years, some sightings have garnered more attention than others, such as the reports given by Gary and Liz Doyle in 1973. The duo actually captured 10 seconds of 8mm film highlighting an unidentified creature running across a road in South Australia. The poor quality of the film has eliminated any chance of conclusively identifying the animal as a Tasmanian Tiger.

Another incident involved a researcher working for the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service. Hans Naarding believes he sighted a Tasmanian Tiger in 1982, during the night at a location situated close to Arthur River in northwestern Tasmania. He claims to have witnessed the animal for three minutes. His supposed encounter would lead to an intense government-funded search that took one year to complete.

One of the most recent sightings took place in 2005, where a German tourist named Klaus Emmerichs claimed to have taken digital photos of a Tasmanian Tiger while visiting the Lake St Clair National Park region. However, the authenticity of the photographs has not been confirmed. Although published more than a year later, the identity of the creature still is inconclusive.