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HISTORY:
- EXPEDITIONS AND SEARCHES -
(page 2)
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Expeditions and Searches - 1937 to Present-Day

The Examiner article continues:

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    Trooper Fleming, said the chairman, had reported that several persons had seen the tiger in the Tarraleah district.  One man stated that he had lived in the Collingwood River area for the past 17 years, and during that time had seen only three or four tigers in the bush.  He had, however, caught 12 or 14 in his snares, and had often trapped them.  This man expressed the opinion that it would be waste of time trying to catch tigers in that country at present.  Trooper Fleming suggested that the matter be allowed to stand over until the next hunting season, as it would then be a much easier matter to trap the animal.

    Colonel Lord said that Sergeant Summers had been authorised to make arrangements for investigations by a party comprising himself, Trooper Higgs and Mr. Roy Marthick, of Smithton, an experienced bushman.  He expected the cost of this work would be borne by the board.  Trooper Fleming's recommendation that investigations in the Tarraleah - Mt. Arrowsmith area be left until later had been approved".

Search 1 - April 1937:

    The Advocate newspaper of the 24th April 1937 (p. 6), in an article entitled "Search for Tigers", records the departure of the first expedition:

    "Yesterday Sgt. M. A. Summers, of Wynyard, Trooper G. G. Higgs, of Ulverstone, and Mr. Roy Murthick, of Smithton, an experienced bushman, with a thorough knowledge of the country, left for the far North West, where an extensive search is to be made in an endeavour to ascertain in what numbers

Tasmanian Tiger - Efforts at Conservation - Extinction Threatened
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The Sydney Morning Herald, 2nd March 1937 (p. 11).
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Tasmanian Tigers still exist in that area.  The matter was discussed during the week at a meeting of the Fauna Board, and the decision to investigate the position in the Far North-West was reached on the recommendation of Sgt. Summers.  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 science.  It is proposed that the party shall spend from a month to six weeks in the area, and the expense will be borne by the Fauna Board.  The party will have to traverse some of the roughest country in the State".
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    The expedition reported seeing signs of thylacines particularly in the Arthur-Pieman area inland as far as the Lofty Ranges and the Donaldson River.  They recommended a sanctuary in the area, but this was not followed up (Guiler 1985).
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Search Area 1 [Arthur River, Waratah and Middlesex]
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Search Area 1 (Arthur River, Waratah and Middlesex) [Approximate areas covered by search].
Satellite image: Google Earth.  Place your pointer over the map to magnify.
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    The Mercury newspaper of the 28th August 1937 (p. 13), notes the Fauna Board's comments following the first of the organised searches: 

    "The Animals and Birds Protection Board intends to continue its searches for Tasmanian tigers, and at an appropriate time a police party will form an expedition into the country behind Mount Arrowsmith and the Collingwood River.  At a meeting of the Board at Launceston yesterday the chairman (Col. J. E. C. Lord) reported that although the result of the Arthur-Pieman River investigation had been rather negative, he considered the surveys should be proceeded with.  If it were found that many tigers existed in any district, consideration would be given to proclaiming a sanctuary there.  Dr. J. Pearson said members of the Board were more or less convinced that some tigers existed, but he questioned whether it was worth incurring great expense.  He had been told that surveys cost comparatively little.  It was mentioned that reports had been received of tigers having been seen at Kelly Basin in the Port Davey district in south-western Tasmania".

    In a letter to the editor of the Mercury newspaper of the 6th May 1937 (p. 8), headed "A Bush-Whacker's Experience In the North-West", a bushman identified by the initials P.A.X. of Circular Head gives the following advice to members of the search teams:

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    "Sir, I read with interest in 'The Mercury' of the scarcity of the marsupial wolf, as discussed by the Fauna Board.  I have had a lot of experience with the wild animals of Tasmania, having been prospecting, splitting, and bush-whacking for upwards of 50 years.  I think the wolf is just as plentiful now as he was 50 years ago, but he was never very plentiful, not being a prolific breeder, and seldom rearing more than one once a year.  In this respect the wolf is unlike the smellful skunk, known as the bush devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), or the little packet of ferocity and destruction, the tiger-cat (Dasyurus maculatus), which rear litters of from two to six twice a year.  Both species are cannibals, and invariably eat their mother if she does not keep them well supplied with food as they grow up.  Then the strong one eats the weaker one until generally only a hardy male survives.  Why
the other animal has been called a wolf or tiger has got me puzzled.  Except for his stripes, he is not a bit like the tiger, and has none of the habits or instincts of either tiger or wolf, but has a stiff back like all the species of hyena.  Unlike most of the hyena species, however, he is marsupial and does not howl, but has a short, sharp yelp while hunting.  He is not altogether a night prowler, for I have seen several chases with him after wallaby during the daytime in the open country along the Arthur River, in the Circular Head district.  While camping on a big plain west of
Beaumaris Zoo (QD) - 1933
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This image is from a 1933 film taken at the Beaumaris Zoo (QD) of "Benjamin", the last known captive thylacine.
the Arthur River track two years ago, every night I would hear four or five yelping in different directions, and some of them would come very close to my camp fire.  Their home is generally in the open country, but they may be met with anywhere.  Last summer while prospecting along the Black River, I sat down to have a smoke, and a fine specimen came down the bank within a half chain of me.  After looking at me for a while he lapped up some water, got on a log and crossed the river, and then walked leisurely up the bank on the other side.  My advice to the expeditions that are to be sent out to search for them is not to bother killing a kangaroo and wearing out their patience watching it, for tigers will not go near it.  If they would eat a dead animal the Government and the V.D.L. Company would have poisoned and exterminated them in the Circular Head district 50 years ago when they were giving £1 a head for them.  Probably this is why they won't live very long in captivity. If these expeditions want to see if there are any tigers about, let them try the old prospector's trick when he is running short of meat: Set a hurricane lamp or candle in the middle of a plain and get back about three chains from it.  Any of the wild animals will come creeping slowly up to it.  But if there is a hyena about he will be the first to come".
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References
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