"ENCOUNTER WITH A TASMANIAN TIGER - Of the Tasmanian feræ, perhaps
the most savage is the native tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus). This
animal, a faithful representation of which is given by our artist, is now
very seldom met with in the settled districts of the island, the ravages
which it commits amongst the flocks whenever it falls in such company having
made it an object of the special animosity of the colonists. It bears
no resemblance, in form to the great feline whose name it borrows; but
its skin is marked with transverse stripes, and to this peculiarity it,
of, course, owes its appellation. The gentleman whose adventure is
pictured in our engraving was looking for horses on the Blackboy Plains,
near Fingal, when, on passing a flock of sheep, at about 300 yards distance,
he observed an animal which he took to be a dog of kangaroo breed trotting
through the flock. He passed on, the thought striking his mind that
the supposed dog had a rather singular appearance, when, turning suddenly
round, the identity of the animal with the native tiger was betrayed to
him by the marks on its skin. A hunt of a most exciting kind was
immediately improvised, the tiger leading its pursuer through lagoons and
timber, and maintaining tremendous speed. After a chase of an hour
and a quarter the tiger began to show signs of weariness, and his enemy
being enabled to come within flagellating distance, soon brought it to
bay by means of a liberal application of the stock-whip. Although
by nature a coward, this savage fights with an uncommon ferocity when driven
to close quarters. In this instance the tiger carried on the combat
with amazing fierceness; but human strength and human contrivance were
against the brute, which, after a quarter of an hour's desperate resistance,
fell dead under the blows of its antagonist, administered as depicted in
"Encounter with a
Tasmanian Tiger". Illustrated Sydney News,
16th April 1867 (p. 5).
A NATIVE TIGER - Messrs H. and A. Ferguson were coming home from a day's
shooting when, in the vicinity of Muddy Creek, the latter had a rather
thrilling experience. It was about 10:30 p.m. Mr. H. Ferguson
was behind, while his nephew (Mr. Angus Ferguson) was a few chains ahead
waiting for his uncle. A dark object made itself visible and Mr.
A. Ferguson, thinking that it was a kangaroo feeding, fired at it.
The animal gave a yell and made off in the direction of the heath.
The young man quickly followed, but as it was only moon light he could
not find the animal. He was searching for it, using the barrel of
his gun, when all of a sudden the beast grabbed the barrel and held it
fast. (The marks are now plainly visible.) Mr. Ferguson struck
a match, and saw to his surprise that it was a full-grown native tiger.
Pulling away the gun from the firm grip he retreated a few feet and shot
the tiger dead. Mr. Ferguson reported the matter to Sub-inspector
The North Western
Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 22nd March 1906 (p. 2).
An early 20th century
encounter with a thylacine is recalled in the Mercury newspaper of the
29th July 1905 (p. 5):
| "A native tiger
over 5ft. in length and large in frame was shot by Mr. R. Hughes at Upper
Huon on July 25. Mr. Hughes had quite an exciting encounter with
the beast previous to its death. He was out shooting, and had wandered
some distance from his friends. Suddenly his attention was
by a low, warning growl. On parting the bushes whence the sound issued,
he was astounded to behold the tiger in the act of springing on him.
With celerity he raised his gun and despatched the animal, the skin, which
is beautifully marked, has been brought to town, and is on view at Mr.
John Austin's, Elizabeth Street".
A correspondent writing
for the Wellington Times and Agricultural and Mining Gazette of the 10th
May 1892 (p. 3) notes the following unfortunate encounter with a thylacine:
"Two young men were
out hunting at the close of last week when they got a native tiger in a
snare and as it was not hurt or injured in any way they thought they would
take it in to Waratah. So they muzzled it, tied its legs and put
it in a bag and carried it a distance of 12 miles, suspended on a rod between
them. They reached home safely and liberated the animal's legs and
took off the muzzle and fastened it up, as they would a dog, in a blacksmith's
shop. Unfortunately, the tiger did not take kindly to the restriction
on its movements and in trying to get away it got on to a bench and fell
over the other side and hung itself, so that when its captors went to see
it in the morning they found it stiff and cold. I did not see the
animal but, I am told it was really a fine specimen, its skin was most
beautifully marked, and that is all the young men have for their trouble".
Bather Moore, a well known prospector, amateur botanist and geologist who
explored many areas of Tasmania, especially the west. He also collected
plant specimens for Ferdinand Jakob H. von Mueller, the first Government
Botanist of Victoria. This photograph is of interest because Moore
is shown wearing a cap made from the pelt of a thylacine that was killed
by his dogs (view
close-up). The image was taken circa 1885 when Moore was
in his early 30s.
An article in the Cornwall
Chronicle, dated the 15th September 1871 (p. 2), states:
"Mr. George Gibson's
shepherd, at Blessington, while riding over the run saw a large tiger get
up within a few yards of him, the situation was such that he could not
immediately get after the creature, but sent his dog, and, strange to say,
the tiger allowed the dog to work him the same as the dog would a sheep.
The shepherd therefore allowed the dog to run the tiger round and round
the place until with open mouth and hanging tongue he sought refuge in
the branches of a fallen tree, whereupon the shepherd dismounting made
a grasp at his tail, but eluding his grasp the tiger made off again, and
would no doubt have escaped had he not fallen over a log, thus giving the
man, who was in hot pursuit, an opportunity to disable him by striking
a heavy blow across the animal's loins. It was not till thus wounded
that he turned upon his pursuer, and it took repeated blows with a heavy
green stick before he was stretched dead. His extreme length, from
the point of the nose to the tip of the tail was 6 feet 3 inches, and he
was in the act of eating a sheep when he first started up. This makes
the sixth of these destructive brutes caught by the same person during
as many months".
The Mercury of the 16th
August 1889 (p. 3) describes a thylacine sighting at Geeveston, near Hobart:
"A short time back
our juveniles were rather scared by a report that a native tiger had been
seen. It came in open daylight to the residence of Mr. Davies, a
place some distance from the township, and endeavoured to catch some ducks.
However, when detected it took to its heels and the bush, and has not been
heard of since. It seems strange that this solitary animal should
make its appearance here [Geeveston], and it is to be hoped it is
not a forerunner of many more to come. They would soon become a nuisance
here as they are in the midland parts".
An article in the Launceston
Examiner of the 7th February 1893 (p. 5) reports:
the last few weeks in the neighbourhood of the Don the hearts of the timid
ones have been in a state of trepidation owing to the report that a native
tiger has both been tracked and seen in the vicinity of the Don Bluff,
and that up to the present it has avoided capture. Strange to say,
however, no damage to livestock has, so far, been reported at the hands
of this unwelcome visitor, who will without doubt shortly meet with a warm
reception, as where our four-footed friend is secreted the scrub has all
been felled, and as soon as the grain is carted in he will be hunted and
the results should be animated so far as he is concerned".
North West Post, 1st March 1906 (p. 2).