Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers NP / Jason Charles Hill
Hunt for the Thylacine
A pair of thylacines make their way through the wilderness under a waning moon. Their pace is slow and cautious, their movements stiff and stilted. They’re hungry. But they also know they are being hunted. They come to sit atop a mountain, safe in the dark, looking for kangaroos and other marsupials to feast on.
The female thylacine has young she needs to feed. She is carrying four babies in her backwards-facing pouch. After travelling nearly 80 kilometres in search of food, the pair spot their meal in the plains below. With a yip-yap cough-like bark, they cautiously make their way down the mountain.
This eerie yip-yap was the sound the hunters would follow when on the search for the roaming Tasmanian tigers, as they’re commonly known. The tigers were hunted in the early 1900s as they were believed to have been killing farmers’ sheep. There was a bounty of one pound per scalp.
Bounty hunters would spend weeks at a time crossing the rugged western wilderness chasing the tiger. And it was this bounty that eventually led to the wretched demise of their species. The last tiger was caught in the wild by Elias Churchill, deep in the Florentine Valley, west of Mount Field National Park in 1933.
Not all locals believe Elias caught the last thylacine, however. Many feel the Tasmanian tiger still lives and roams the far reaches of the Western Wilds today.
A number of groups are still active in the search. They crouch in the undergrowth, erecting cameras in trees to monitor remote wilderness regions, hoping to get a glimpse of the stripy animal with a dog-like face. In 2017, enthusiastic trackers released footage from the Western Wilds of what they believed to be proof of a population of thylacines living in the area.
So as you head into the depths of the Western Wilds, remember you are in the thick of tiger territory. Are you going to join the search for the mysterious thylacine?