To see the elusive marsupial, you’re going to need to need local intel – and a bit of luck, writes Sue Williams.
The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was officially declared extinct 30 years ago but there are many who believe they’re still among us. One such Tasmanian, Doug Westbrook, proprietor of the Mole Creek Hotel, tells us how we might spot one of the world’s most elusive animals.
Where should we be looking for Tasmanian tigers?
Most of them, I think, are in the northern half of Tasmania, probably because that’s where the most food is. They’re nocturnal animals so you’re best to head out at night, too. People who do see them consider themselves very lucky indeed: they’re notoriously shy and sly. There’s an American who comes here every second year and sets up infra-red cameras but he never gets them. The tigers are too smart for him.
If we see something, how do we know it was actually a Tasmanian tiger?
It looks a lot like a dog but is actually a marsupial and has a pouch, so look out for that. The animal’s tail is attached to its spine so it has a very strange gait – it pretty much hops, almost like a dog with a broken back. I tell you the guy who designed it had a sense of humour. The stripes are a giveaway but you can’t always see them. My wife saw one 20 years ago and she says she didn’t see the stripes so don’t rely on that.
And if we head out into the wilderness but don’t see anything?
Come back to the bar, enjoy a few beers and hear some yarns about people who did see them. Then you can head down to the creek, where you’re bound to see something. There’s always trout down there and sometimes you can see platypus. In fact, I actually saw one last night.