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HISTORY:
- PERSECUTION -
(page 10)
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    The following article calling for the protection of native fauna was published in the Daily Post of the 13th January 1909 (p. 4):

    "PROTECTION OF NATIVE FAUNA.

    The announcement that the Ulimaroa will next week take from here two marsupial wolves - Tasmanian tigers - for the London Zoological Gardens and a brood of Tasmanian devils for the gardens at Melbourne again directs attention to the need of a sanctuary where the native fauna may shelter and be saved from that extinction which must otherwise be its fate.  So rare are marsupial wolves that few people have seen them, and there are probably not half-a-dozen in captivity the world over.  Yet little is done to protect them here and before many years have passed they may be as extinct as the dodo.  But for the practical scientific interest which Mrs. Roberts manifests in zoology it is doubtful whether so much would be known as is the case of Tasmania's rare animals, which, able to survive the attacks of their natural enemies, are being exterminated by the pot hunter and the new enemies and conditions which come in with settlement.  Close seasons are no great protection unless competent authority is at hand to see they are observed, and it is matter of common knowledge that protected birds are shot all the year round by so-called sportsmen who are happy so long as they can kill something.  It is very difficult to prevent this indiscriminate slaughter, and even when the plumage of a bird is retained for commercial purposes so much cunning is shown in disposing of it that it is next to impossible to get evidence that would lead to a conviction.  A plea was made in our open column on Saturday by "Boomerang" for the protection of the black swan, which are now on the Derwent near Bridgewater in considerable numbers.  The writer fears, and in truth he has much reason, that when duck shooting begins on 1st February those noble birds will be "potted" though they have no value and are often thrown away or left where they fall.  There is nothing to prevent this for the five months from the date mentioned are an open season for swan, but notwithstanding that something should be done to save them from the slaughter that will be inevitable when irresponsible men and youths, out for a day's shooting and indifferent what the game is, find them so handy and in such numbers.  In such a case sport too often degenerates into reckless killing. It has thus become a question whether a license should not be required before a man may shoot game, even in the open season, and as one has to be held for salmon and trout fishing there is both precedent and reason for the suggestion.  In many parts of Australia black swan are disappearing and waters on which they were once plentiful are now almost deserted. The same reason applies everywhere. Swan are shot down for the mere sake of shooting, and the surviving birds desert their old feeding and nesting places to seek sanctuary on remote rivers and lakes.  There are sportsmen of a class who see no reason why game should not be shot down whenever they can get within killing distance, and they would resort to swivel guns and the use of decoys did they dare do so.  These people are a curse in all places.  True sportsmen, however, are not to be feared for no matter how desirous they are of big bags - and what man out with the guns for a day is not - they do not shoot indiscriminately nor for the mere sake and lust of killing.  Still, these sportsmen are what their name implies and they have no interest, other than an assurance of good shooting and hunting from season to season, in the protection of the native fauna.  They do not trouble themselves about marsupial wolves or Tasmanian devils, or other animals whose value is mainly scientific, so long as the prospects are good for duck shooting on 1st February.  It thus becomes apparent that much has still to be done if the unique fauna of Tasmania is to be preserved, and that end can only be attained by the establishment of sanctuaries as strictly guarded as are those of New Zealand, which have been the means of saving from extinction a number of animals that had become very scarce and were unable to compete with the importations and altered conditions of life in that Dominion.

    At the present time kangaroo, deer, and opossum are absolutely protected on Freycinet's Peninsula and Schouten Island and will be for two years yet.  At the end of that period they may be given further sanctuary.  This is good so far as it goes but the protection thus afforded needs to be extended and the places named, or others that may be found more suitable, should be made sanctuaries for all native fauna.  There they could live under natural conditions, and meeting only natural enemies the struggle for existence would not be a severe one.  Certainly it would not be so severe as to prevent maintenance of the numbers of the various kinds. This is much to be desired in the interests of science, and though perhaps the average man will fail to see why, for instance, marsupial wolves should be saved from extinction the reasons are none the less potent, and the country which has lost its fauna has gaps in its history that can never be filled.  Apart from the scientific aspect, however, there is a commercial one and many useful fur and feather bearing creatures can be preserved and, when their numbers have sufficiently increased, used for breeding purposes in those parts from where their species had disappeared.  This has been practised with much success in New Zealand and though the same thorough system has not been adopted in New South Wales and Victoria the sanctuaries in those States have given encouraging results.  The cost of the upkeep of a sanctuary, so long as a suitable place is chosen, is not great, and the end amply justifies the cost.  Practical Governments, with many demands made on them for works of a public nature, may place roads and bridges first and regard a sanctuary for birds and animals as a thing

unnecessary and altogether outside their province.  But it is not so.  Nearly every country has its sanctuary - some have several - and the most famous is Yellowstone Park, in the United States, that wonderland of the world, where not even a grizzly bear may be shot.  Once in the reserve an animal is sacred.  Freycinet's Peninsula and Schouten Island would probably suffice for all Tasmania requires but the sanctuary would have to be inviolable.  The question is one to which the Field Naturalists' Club and kindred societies might well give attention and that immediately.  Unless early, steps are taken in the direction here suggested it may be too late.  The marsupial wolves which are in captivity at Beaumaris, we are told, were only obtained at considerable trouble and expense, and this shows how rare the animal has become.  There is, therefore, much need for early action, and in scientific interests it is to be hoped that it will be at once taken". .
Wilfred Batty - 1930
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Another photo (recently discovered) taken by Pat O'Hallorran of Wilfred Batty with the thylacine he shot on the 6th May 1930.
Courtesy: © Hurst family archives (private collection).

   In the "Letters to the Editor" section of the Mercury newspaper of the 4th January 1937 (p. 6) is an impassioned plea by D. Colbron Pearse, the President of the Field Naturalists Club of Tasmania, to save the "tiger": 

    "Sir,

    Everyone interested in Australia's unique fauna will be pleased to read in 'The Mercury' of January 2, that at last a real effort is being made to save the koala from extinction.  The apathy, towards this important subject of fauna preservation has always been very marked, and more so in Tasmania than on the Mainland.  Here we have a far more interesting and valuable animal than the koala, one that is becoming rarer each year, and yet no steps are taken to preserve it.  I refer to the marsupial wolf, or tiger.  Many hundreds of koala are still to be found in their wild state, but from all accounts, it's doubtful if today there exist one hundred tigers.

    Many distinguished scientists, including Dr. J. Pearson of our Museum, have frequently pointed out the necessity for its preservation.  About two years ago Mr. A. W. Burbury speaking at a meeting of the Fauna Board said that the animal was of tremendous scientific value and moved that the Government be approached with a view to establishing a sanctuary, but the motion lapsed for want of a seconder.  So far no steps have been taken to protect the tiger beyond placing it on the partially protected list, as far as I know.  The first step should be fully to protect it, and heavily fine or imprison anyone capturing or shooting it, besides which it should be an offence to possess a skin.  Occasionally a specimen is sent to our zoo where it invariably dies within a few weeks; another victim to indifference and ignorance.

    Are we going to sit down quietly and allow this unique animal to die out within a short period?  Something must be done and done quickly if we wish to avoid the slur which is bound to fall upon its extinction.  If every interested person, and everyone should be interested, voiced his and her opinion, we might get a move on in the right direction and win the approbation of the world for our efforts in saving the Thylacine".
D. Colbron Pearse

    Michael Sharland, writing in 1941, states:

    "If the animal is not to become lost to science completely the fullest measure of protection must be accorded to it very soon, and this must be concentrated in the mountainous districts where it is making its last stand.  Trapping must be rigorously banned, all guns kept away from known breeding areas, and every effort must be made to conserve its food supply, otherwise the days of the thylacine are numbered.  But with these protective measures in operation, and with adequate sanctuary and keen conservationists to watch its welfare, this unique marsupial, which has given Tasmania some importance in the realm of science, may perhaps be preserved almost indefinitely".

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References
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back to: Persecution (page 9) return to the section's introduction forward to: The Tasmanian Bushmen (page 1)


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