and Searches - 1937 to Present-Day
With the death of the
captive thylacine at the Beaumaris
Zoo (QD) in Hobart on the night of the 7th September 1936, numerous
expeditions and searches were conducted in an effort to establish if the
thylacine still survived.
The Examiner newspaper
of the 19th February 1937 (p. 10), notes the State Fauna Board's early
efforts to gather information on the status of the thylacine:
wild parts of the state who have seen the
animal; and the information at present collected points to the tiger existing
chiefly in the more rugged parts of the west of Tasmania. Mr. J.
A. Daly, a prospector, who returned to Hobart several days ago after over
a year on the Jane River goldfield, told a representative of 'The Examiner'
today that in the Jane River district he had found many clear indications
of the presence of tigers. The goldfield, he said, was situated about
20 miles by a rough track from the West Coast Road, and was in very rough
country. Here the tigers had not yet been driven back. To get
to the field the Jane River had to be crossed by a log, and at each end
of the log, in soft earth, were clear marks of the Tasmanian tiger.
Many of the prospectors and timber workers in the neighbourhood had met
with them, and there were several stories of their ferocity. Much
of the country had never been explored, and the beasts, driven away from
the inhabited country some time ago because of their depredations on sheep,
now appeared to exist in fairly large numbers near the West Coast. There
is no specimen of the tiger in captivity".
"Tasmanian Tigers - Evidence of Existence on West Coast: The request
by the State Fauna Board for information about Tasmanian tigers, which
were believed to be almost extinct, has brought to light valuable facts
about them. The board is not concerned with their protection as
animals, but, in view of their scientific interest, it is desirable that
the species should not go out of existence. The secretary of
the Fauna Board (Mr. E. P. Andrewartha) is now engaged in an attempt to
preserve them. He has received several letters from prospectors and
others in the
image of the last known captive thylacine, popularly known as "Benjamin",
is from a famous film
made at the Beaumaris Zoo (QD) in December 1933 by Dr. David Fleay.
Photo courtesy: David Fleay
|| This information
appears to have played a crucial role in directing the early expeditions
to the most likely areas where thylacines still existed. The planning
that preceded the first two organised searches was reported in the Advocate
newspaper of the 21st April 1937 (p. 7):
"Steps are being
taken by the Animals and Birds Protection Board to organise experienced
parties of bushmen to search remote areas of the State to discover where
and in what numbers specimens of the Tasmanian tiger may be found.
The move has been actuated by the grave danger of the Tasmanian tiger becoming
extinct, and the unique features of the marsupial thereby being lost to
| Reports have already
been furnished to the board from police officers with experience, in bushcraft
concerning tigers which have been seen in various districts, and in the
event of the board attaining its object, on completing a survey consideration
will be given to proclaiming a sanctuary for the preservation of the animal.
The chairman (Colonel
J. E. C. Lord) reported that much anxiety was being expressed by scientific
societies of the Empire lest the native tiger, or marsupial wolf, should
become extinct, and the Fauna Board had decided to take definite steps
to prevent this happening. In the first place, it was necessary to
make the survey as thorough as was practicable, to ascertain where and
in what numbers specimens of the tiger might still be found. It has
been said recently that the animals had been seen on the West Coast road
near Tarraleah; and that some were to be found on the Eldon, Engineer and
Raglan Ranges, also in the Collingwood and Franklin River areas, and that
one was seen recently near Port Davey. It was stated that another
had been seen in the Arthur River area, out from Waratah.
| It has been decided
by the board to send out two exploratory parties under selected police
officers if their services can be made available. It is suggested
that one party, under Sergeant M. A. Summers, of Wynyard, and including
an experienced bushman, investigate the position in the Arthur River, Waratah
and Middlesex country. It is proposed that a second party, under
Police Trooper Arthur
L. Fleming, circa 1938.
Bothwell, with an experienced bushman, operate in the Tarraleah district,
and adjacent areas on the West Coast.
Colonel Lord said
he had received comprehensive reports from both Sergeant Summers and Trooper
Fleming, who had interviewed a number of persons on the matter.
reported that a native tiger had been seen near the Dolly River, in the
Lileah district, last January, and that he had been informed that the animals
existed in fairly large numbers some years ago near the Jury River, Middlesex.
Another man had stated that he had repeatedly heard a tiger
|howling at night near the dam at the
Mt. Bischoff mine, and on March 11th had a good view of it. It would
take at least six weeks to make a fairly good examination, as the tiger
was very shy, but a few had been known to become inquisitive, and at night
to come fairly close to a camp. He asked for the services of Constable
Higgs, of Ulverstone, and suggested an early start. He suggested
also that the Arthur Pieman River sanctuary be extended, taking in the
whole of the Arthur to its junction with the Pieman at Corinna. Heavily-timbered
and exceptionally rough country, bounded by button-grass plains, afforded
the native tiger good protection in this area, and at the same time provided
ample sanctuary. He questioned whether more suitable country could