Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Thylacine blues

As mentioned in an earlier blog (scroll down lazy) I've been thoroughly enjoying The Sea Inside by Philip Hoare and yesterday I read a fascinating chapter in which he documents the plight of the poor old Thylacine.

This was a sort of wolf-dog marsupial that was driven to extinction by settlers in Tasmania over the start of the twentieth century in that classic way people behaved then with absolutely no forward-thinking about what they were doing - such as slaughtering animal populations or wiping out indigenous populations. 

However, you can't keep a good wolf-dog-marsupial down and the Thylacine may well have managed to survive. Hoare recounts many testimonials from eye witnesses who claim to have seen the creatures still in the wild, with many sounds highly creditable. Given the wildness of Tasmania it seems possible a few creatures could have survived against the odds and still be scavenging their way through the undergrowth.

There's some uniquely tragic about the idea humans have wiped out some animals from the face of the earth, without any one at the time really thinking, "Er, chaps, what happens when there's none them".

I hope the Thylacine makes a return in the future, with firm proof, and that it's well protected for the future. 

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