| Michael Sharland (1971)
published one of the few accounts of an actual "tiger" hunt (based on the
childhood recollections of Mr. W. J. Cotton) in his book "A Pocketful
"Taking two sheep
dogs we rode out, and as we neared the tiger's lair the dogs' hackles rose
and they snarled and whined as if in fear. Father lifted me up into
a tree, and a moment later the tiger broke cover, loping away ahead of
the dogs. The first shot brought him down, but he got to his feet
immediately and faced his snarling tormentors. I remember the tiger
was making a coughing, snuffling noise, and appeared to be all gaping mouth
and huge teeth as it snapped at the dogs. My father could not get
another shot for fear of hitting the dogs, which were rushing round and
round the tiger. His fused backbone made him turn very slow in comparison
to the dogs, and eventually one of them grabbed him by the throat.
The tiger reared up in the air, and then they crashed, rolling over and
over along the ground. When they came to a stop, the first dog had
been shaken off, and as the tiger rose to his feet, this dog grabbed him
on the other side of the throat. The two dogs hung on as the tiger
kept rearing in an effort to shake them off. Eventually, he made
a last desperate effort, and as he came down on his back with the dogs
still hanging at his throat the tiger let out the most unearthly scream
I have ever heard. Father walked up and pointed the gun at the tiger's
head, but he was quite dead. The pelt was taken home and pegged out,
and was measured at just over 7 foot from nose to tip of tail. My
father said that during the night the dogs barked and howled continuously,
and he went out four or five times to quieten them. However, when
he went out next morning one of them had broken away from his chain and
ripped the tiger skin to pieces".
The two principal bounty schemes i.e., that of the Van Diemen's Land Company
introduced in 1830, and that of the Tasmanian Government introduced in
1888, were both decisive in reducing thylacine numbers.
The government bounty
was discontinued for all thylacines destroyed from the 1st July 1908, although
payments continued to be made into 1909. Termination of the government
bounty scheme was advertised in the local press, as noted in the clipping
shown at left from the Mercury of the 17th September 1908 (p. 1).
| The persecution of
the tiger continued unabated into the early part of the 20th century as
can be seen from a story entitled "A Hungry Tiger" published in
the Examiner newspaper of the 4th May 1909 (p. 5):
"The district of
Montagu, which has been settled and civilised for a great many years, had
a visit from one of its primitive barbarians - a native tiger. That
animal had left traces of its presence in a few slaughtered and half eaten
sheep. Having killed one on Mr. Smith's farm on the night of April
29, he returned on the next day to the carcase. Mr. Smith's dogs,
however, disturbed him, and he took refuge in the orchard, where the dogs
kept him at bay. Some ladies were passing by on their way to the
polling booth, and, seeing the tiger, one of them ran home and told her
husband, who brought his gun and shot the animal. This capture was
a source of much satisfaction to Mr. Smith, and also to a neighbouring
farmer who had threatened to wait by the car ease all night for the purpose
of capturing the animal".
The Port Pirie Recorder
and North Western Mail (a South Australian newspaper) of the 17th November
1909 (p. 5) states:
"And when you see
a party of mounted men, chasing at speed along the plains, or driving,
with zest and glee, into the recesses of the forests, headed by packs of
howling dogs, you know that they are settlers, intent on ridding the countryside
of this pest, the thylacine".
A total of 2,207 bounties were paid at a total cost of £2,132 and
ten shillings. The bounty legislation was repealed by the Tasmanian
Government on the 26th April 1909. The Van Diemen's Land Company
bounty was terminated some five years later in 1914. Even after the
cessation of the various bounty schemes, the thylacine continued to be
snared and shot, and it was not until the 10th July 1936 that the species
was afforded total protection under the law.
At right is a photograph of Albert Quarrell holding a dead thylacine, dated
December 1911. Who actually shot this individual after it was tracked
through the scrub by Quarrell and several other bushmen is not known.
According to Bailey (2001), its skin is believed to have been sold to Charles
Brown (the photographer of this image) for £5.
Quarrell of Brighton, with a thylacine killed in December 1911 at Fitzgerald,
west of New Norfolk.
"The war against
the sheep killers has been waged for long and in districts where it was
once numerous the "wolf" is becoming rare".
of the 5th June 1914 (p. 4).
Below is a photograph of farmer Wilfred ("Wilf") Batty
with the thylacine he shot after seeing it kill poultry on his Mawbanna
property around noon on Tuesday, 6th May 1930. The thylacine (a male)
was killed with one shot to the shoulder and took around 20 minutes to
die. Batty has since acquired the notorious distinction of having
made the last documented thylacine kill. This photograph was taken
by Pat O'Halloran, a postal mechanic from Stanley. The following
day, the body was sold to the animal dealer
Harrison of Wynyard for £5 who in turn, according to Batty, sold
it to the Hobart Museum where it was prepared for taxidermy before being
sent on tour around Australia (Anon. 1980). The present location
of the taxidermy (if it still exists) is unknown. Note the dog's
fearful stance toward the thylacine; Batty commented that his dogs were
so terrified by the presence of the corpse that they did not go near the
house for three days afterwards.
Batty with the thylacine he shot on the 6th May 1930.
The following account
in the Advocate newspaper of the 14th May 1930 (p. 6), infers that date
of the kill may have actually been the 13th May:
was caused at Mawbanna yesterday when a marsupial wolf was shot by a Mr.
Wilfred Batty on the property of his father, Mr. W. P. Batty. The
animal was an exceptionally large one of its species, its body measuring
five feet six inches in length. These animals which are more commonly
called hyenas, are now very rare in Tasmania, and are generally only found
in the out-back districts. The animals, although strong and ferocious,
are great cowards, and do most of their prowling at night, when they prey
on the small life of the bush. This particular hyena had been the
cause of a great deal of trouble in the Mawbanna district, having wrought
havoc in fowl-pens, while it had also frightened several children.
It had also visited several camps and given the men a scare. On one
occasion, a few nights ago, it entered a hut on Mr. Sundquist's property
in which some men were camping. One of the men, turning round, saw
the animal lapping up some food out of the saucepan, and, thinking it was
a dog, attempted to put it outside. He received a severe shock when
he found the intruder to be a hyena, and quickly jumped away when it snarled
at him. Another of the men threw a boot at the beast, which sank
its fangs in it, and sneaked away. The marauder evidently got a little
bold yesterday, for when Mr. Batty and his family were at dinner, his little
girl saw it through the window prowling about the yard, apparently after
fowls. Mr. Batty and his son Wilfred quickly got their guns, and
although the animal made off on their appearance, the latter was successful
in wounding it, and it was soon dispatched".
additional photos of the thylacine killed by Wilf Batty. The first
image, which depicts the final, sad moments just before its death, was
taken by Pat O'Halloran. The photographer of the second image (in
which the animal appears to be dead) is unknown. Both photographs
were of course taken prior to O'Halloran's image which shows Mr. Batty
posing beside the stiffened body.
With reference to the Batty kill, Griffith (1972) states:
"Officially, the last thylacine was shot at Mawbanna on the northwest coast.
However, it is common knowledge in Tasmania that there were others killed
after this date".