Went to see The Hunter this week, a Willem Dafoe movie shot in Tasmania with epic sweeping vistas and a storyline centering on the Tasmanian tiger. Is that made up, I wondered?
No, is the answer.
The Tasmanian tiger (or wolf) hasn’t been seen since 1930 when it was hunted out of existence in its native Australia and Papua New Guinea thanks to a bounty on its head having been designated a sheep worrier. Occasionally sightings are still reported but none have been confirmed.
It is a funny-looking hybrid with its elongated nose, stripy bum and kangaroo-style tail. It’s official academic name (thylacinus cynocephalus) means dog-headed pouched one and it was the largest carnivorous marsupial. Name another carnivorous marsupial, I hear you cry! Ok. The Tasmanian devil.
Here’s a little vid of the last ones alive. They made a feeble attempt to breed them in a zoo when they realised how badly they’d screwed the species over but it was too late and the last ones in the zoo are thought to have died from neglect. Fail.