The Tasmanian Tiger

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The Tasmanian Tiger

The Tasmanian tiger was world’s largest known carnivorous marsupials before the 20th century. The name given to this creature was basically due to its series of dark transverse stripes that emerged from its back’s top that made it resemble a tiger. It also resembled a kangaroo due its stiff tail as well as bearing an abdominal pouch for young (Figueirido & Janis 2014).

Initially, observers distinguished that the animal was typically secretive, elusive and shy. As such, it constantly avoided contact with humans although it showed inquisitive traits in most cases. Although stigma in regard to its frightening scene existed, there was no record of one attacking humans (Paddle 2013).

The Tasmanian tiger was once widely spread in Australia and New Guinea before settlement of the British in Australasia continent. About 2000 years ago, the creature’s likelihood of becoming extinct in Australia and New Guinea is attributed to interference by invasive dingoes and indigenous humans (Johnson & Wroe 2013). Although, it is believed that the dingoes interference would not have disrupted the existence of the wolf since the two species hunt for their food in different times in that the dingoes hunt majorly during the day and the wolf hunt primarily during the night. Furthermore, due to the powerful stature of the Tasmanian tiger, it had an advantage over the dingo whenever one-on-one encounter could arise. As such, human’s intensive hunting was to blame for their extinction (Johnson & Wroe 2013).

Though the Tasmanian tiger was extinct in Australia’s mainland, the creature survived in Tasmanian island state in the 1930s. During the time when the early European settlements began spreading in the north-midland, northwest and northeast regions of the state, they were rarely seen but gradually began to emanate with many attacks on sheep. As such, this culminated into development of bounty schemes in a way to control their attacks on sheep by regulating their numbers (Paddle 2013).

The biggest landholder the Van Diemaen’s Land Company brought into action bounties on the Tasmanian tiger as early as 1830. The bounties were paid 10 shillings for puppies and $132.29 per head for dead adult Tasmanian tigers. Consequently, due to the large number of bounties employed, it is thought that extra number of Tasmanian tigers that got terminated exceeded the number that was claimed for (Paddle 2013). As such, the extinction of the Tasmanian tigers so popularly contributed by massive efforts by these bounty hunters and farmers who invaded their habitats for settlement. Furthermore, stiff competition from settlers’ wild dogs, concurrent extinction of prey species, and the outbreak of distemper-like disease on the captive Tasmanian tigers led to the extinction. By the 1920s the animal became very rare in the wild (Paddle 2013).

The public viewed the animal to be responsible for attacks on sheeps while the reality was that the animal killed only one sheep at a time. In spite of the animal having many human enemies, the Tasmanian Advisory Committee for Native Fauna established a reserve in order to inhibit attack on the remaining Tasmanian tigers (Wilson 2013).


Figueidero, B., Janis, C.M. (2014). “The predatory behavior of the thylacine: Tasmanian tiger or marsupial wolf?” New Jersy: Biology Letters.

Johnson, C.N., Wroe, S. (2013). “Causes of extinction of vertebrates during the Holocine period. Sydney: The Holocine.

Paddle, R. (2013). “The thylacine last straw: Epidemic disease in a recent mammalian extinction”. Sydney: Australian Zoologist.

Wilson, L. (2013). “ Marsupial and Placental Carnivores”. Canberra: Australian Journal of Zoology.