|MAGNIFICENT SURVIVOR - CONTINUED
EXISTENCE OF THE TASMANIAN TIGER
After five months alone
in the bush, I was left with a deep sense of loneliness and depression.
Many have underestimated the task of trudging the bush looking for an animal
which the whole world says is extinct. I did learn a lot however;
with so little recorded knowledge of thylacine habits or field sign, the
only way to understand the Tasmanian tiger is to first understand all other
animals in the work area.
interesting signs were found, but nothing definite.
| Camping alone in the
bush for weeks does strange things to the mind. During this second
search I experienced depression approaching a nervous break down.
After one three-week period wandering around the bush alone looking for
tiger, tiger, tiger, I actually started to forget what I was looking for.
The image of a thylacine became blurred in my mind, and I couldn't remember
what they looked like. No amount of tears or self pity would let
me see one, or even the slightest evidence of one.
Trying to truly get
inside the head of an animal which nobody knows much about, and was probably
extinct, was a source of unspeakable depression. I felt sorry for
this species - so persecuted that it was now nowhere to be found.
I realised there was a problem, when on a sunset hill looking over forest
as far as the eye could see, I started to view myself as the last Tasmanian
tiger; lonely and wandering around the bush looking for a mate, but unable
to find one.
vehicle endured almost as much hardship as I did.
| It was about half-way
through the second search that I began to think more seriously about the
movie script. I could not find the Tasmanian tiger, but I felt the
need to show others the emotion revolving in my head, so I set out to bring
the species to life in a feature film. When times were worst, I drew
strength from imagining how the scenes would look; in effect creating a
tiger to replace the one I couldn't find. This second search lasted
seven months or so, by which time I was mentally and physically exhausted,
and had all but given up.
While taking a break
at my home in Queensland to mentally recover, I was able to finish the
film script, and preparations were made to gain funding for production.
While organising the film script, I conducted a review of recent thylacine
literature and managed to gain a few new insights on behaviour and preferred
habitat. Several mentally gruelling field searches followed over
the next two years without much joy, although there was a sense that I
was slowly narrowing it down. During May 2002, I was finally able
to glimpse a juvenile thylacine for five seconds. The next day, I
saw an adult in the same area. My online book describes both sightings
a break to regain motivation, I was back in 2000 with a smaller 4WD to
easier access the abandoned logging tracks.
Of course, everything
changed after actually seeing the animals. For the next four months,
I lived in rented cars trying to film thylacines in the same area without
success. After the first month, it was abundantly clear that working
out of a car in the middle of winter was unsustainable, so the decision
was made to buy a house nearby.