Tasmanian Tiger

Information and pictures of the Tasmanian Wolf or Thylacine

The Tasmanian Tiger (also known as the Thylacine or Tasmanian Wolf) was originally native to Australia and New Guinea. It became extinct from mainland Australia and New Guinea about 2000 years ago and was only found in Tasmania when European explorers discovered it in the 1600s. Sadly, these fascinating animals were hunted into extinction by local farmers and bounty hunters in the early 1900s.

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"Benjamin" - The last Tasmanian Tiger



The last living Thylacine died in the Hobart Zoo in 1936 and was called "Benjamin". Since that time there has been much controversy over whether the Tasmanian Tiger is really extinct, as numerous sightings of this animal have been reported over the past 70 years.

Tasmanian Wolf

The Tasmanian Wolf or Thylacine was known about by Australian Aborigines for thousands of years with a number of rock paintings depicting this strange animal dating back to 1000 BC. European explorers discovered the animal much later when its numbers had shrunk dramatically, and at that stage it was only native to Tasmania. Abel Tasman, a dutch explorer who discovered Tasmania in 1642 made a record in his journal of seeing footprints of wild beasts "with claws like a tiger". Much later, in 1772, French explorers reported seeing "tiger cats", however the Thylacine was only scientifically classified by Europeans in 1808 and unfortunately promptly wiped out by hunting around 1930.

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Thylacine rock painting

Thylacine

The Thylacine was the largest carnivorous marsupial. It resembled a large, short-haired dog with distinctive black stripes across its back. It measured about 2 metres from nose to tail, stood about 60 cm tall and weighed between 20 and 30 kg. Early European settlers likened it to a Hyena with respect to its appearance and general behaviour.

One of the Thylacine's unusual features was its long, stiff tail which was similar to that of a kangaroo. This was thought to make it difficult for the Thylacine to run, and so it instead used a bipedal hop (similar to that of a kangaroo). It was also known to be able to open its jaws to an unusually large angle, about 120 degrees. The Thylacine is thought to be closely related to the Tasmanian Devil.

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Tasmanian Wolf

Tazmanian Tiger

Not much is known about the Tazmanian Tiger or it's behaviour as few observations were made of the animal while it was alive. The majority of scientific study was done on tigers living in captivity, and it was not observed very much in its natural habitats. However it certainly does not appear to have been a dangerous animal, and appeared to be a very timid animal that tended to shy away from any contact with man.

The Tazmanian Tiger was exclusively carnivorous and also nocturnal meaning that it hunted and fed primarily at night. It preferred to live in dry forests and coastal heath and would be likely to live in a den made out of a hollow log or small hole, similar to its unusual cousin the Tasmanian Devil.

Analysis of preserved specimens of the Tazmanian Tiger's brain suggest that it had a highly developed sense of sight and hearing and these were what it used to hunt effectively. Further analysis of the tigers frame and skeleton reveal that the animals strength was likely to be stamina and it would probably single out its prey and then chase it for an extended period of time. Tasmanian Tigers were thought to growl, hiss, bark and sometimes howl to communicate with other packs over long distances. Early observers of the animal found that they were generally very shy and would avoid humans at all costs.

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Tazmanian Tiger

Extinction of the Tasmanian Tiger

The last known wild Tasmanian Tiger was killed by a farmer called Wilf Batty when he shot it outside his henhouse in 1930. The last living captive tiger died in 1936 in Hobart Zoo and was affectinately known as "Benjamin".

Unfortunately the Thylacine was regarded as a pest by early settlers after killing a number of livestock including sheep and chickens. This resulted in the Van Diemen's Land Company and later the Tasmanian Government offering bounties on the heads of dead Tassie Tigers. The bounty offered was $1 per tiger and 10 shillings for pups. In all the Tasmanian government paid for 2184 bounties, however many more tigers were thought to be killed without bounties being claimed.

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Tasmanian wolf trophy

Is the Tasmanian Tiger really extinct?

Many people believe that the Thylacine is still alive and living in the wilds of Tasmania. There have been numerous unconfirmed sightings of the animal over the last 70 years. A number of films and pictures have been taken of these mysterious animals, however none of the photographic evidence has been of sufficient quality to confirm its continued existence. Over the last 20 years large rewards have been offered to prove the existence of Thylacine. In 2005 an Australian news magazine called the "Bulletin" offered a $1.25 million reward for the safe capture of a live Thylacine, and more recently a Tasmanian tour operator called Stewart Malcolm offered a reward of $1.75 million.

People continue to believe in the existence of Tasmanian Tigers living wild in Tasmania today, who knows you might be the first person to find one.....

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