(page 10)

Expeditions and Searches - 1937 to Present-Day

Guiler Search 4 (1963-64):

    The last of the major Guiler expeditions was funded by the Animals & Birds Protection Board with a small grant of AU$2000 from the Tasmanian Government.  The five man team consisted of: Dr. Eric Guiler, Inspector George Hanlon, Wildlife Officers Reuben Hooper and Ken Harmon, and a professional bushman and snarer, Ray Martin.

    The goal of the expedition was to establish, by capture and subsequent photography, whether thylacines still existed in the Tasmanian bush.  This would be achieved by extensive snaring, using treadles and springers activating a leg snare which would not harm the animal, and each snare would be examined every day.  It was not the team's intention to keep any thylacine caught in captivity, only to obtain photographic proof of its existence.

Guiler Search 4
Guiler Search 4 (Woolnorth, Green's Creek & Balfour).
Satellite image: Google Earth.

    The team set off in October 1963, with the first of the expedition's camps being established at Green's Creek on the West Coast (now in the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area).  Historically, the area was well-known as supporting relatively large populations of thylacines.  The team worked the Green's Creek - Peddar River area with a line of 700 snares, but after a few unproductive weeks decided to move north to Woolnorth in December.

    As with Green's Creek, thylacines were once plentiful in the Woolnorth area, and alleged sightings had been recorded in recent years.  Four snare lines totalling some 700 snares were set together with a further 100 snares around a suspect lair.  Once again, the team's efforts produced no concrete evidence.

    In April 1964, the expedition returned to the West Coast and lines of snares were set to the Northeast and Southwest of Balfour.  During this time, three of the five man team sustained injuries of varying severity, and it was decided to conclude the expedition.

view the film
In 1964, Dr. Guiler was featured in a short film entitled "The Tasmanian Tiger", produced by the Department of Film Production (Tasmania), and presented by Mobil Oil Australia.  Click the film icon above to view his segment.
the 1963-64 expedition's base camp at Balfour
The 1963-64 expedition's base camp at Balfour.

    Guiler notes his thoughts on why the expedition failed in a letter to the Animals & Birds Protection Board in his capacity as Chairman:

    "Each snare set for one night represented a chance of catching a thylacine and thus a total of 175,000 chances were used to achieve our object, and it is with regret that I must announce our failure.  This was not on account of any lack of perseverance of effort or lack of hard work by those concerned in the field project, but is attributable to no luck.  We still found evidence of thylacines in the areas in which we worked but none of those animals were caught in the snares.  I feel that it is only a matter of luck and/or perseverance before a thylacine is either caught or photographed.  No previous expedition worked for as long or on such a large scale as this and our absence of success emphasises the scarcity of this animal and the difficulties inherent in any program for its conservation.  It also emphasises the vital need to do all that we can to ensure its survival by a program of large reserves".

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