Tuesday, September 7, 2010

National Threatened Species Day

Now, on the day we finally get a Prime Minister after two weeks of a hung parliament, the fact that it is also National Threatened Species Day is ironic. I'm not sure why - but I know I could have more fun with that. However, tonight it's all about TIGERS for me.

This day for the threatened species of flora and fauna in Australia began as a recognition of the death of the last known Tasmanian Tiger, who died in the Hobart Zoo, September 7th, 1936. Of course, stories still abound of the Thylacine roaming certain parts of Australia ...
... but I wonder if the optimism and joy people experience when hearing about positive sightings saves us from feeling like stupid bastards for annihilating the tigers. I've said before that colonial Tasmania was a crucible of violence and the extinction of the tigers symbolises this violence.

Tigers used to exist on the mainland of Australia too and its likely that the coming of the dingoes about three thousand years ago saw to their demise. The last thylacine and the first dingo remains so far discovered on the mainland are radiocarbon dated within a few centuries of one another. Sea levels rose before the dingoes arrived and so they didn't make it to Tasmania.
Next is a story for you about Tasmanian tigers and dingos. I posted it two years ago and it is time to give it some light again (because I like it!) Tigers and dingoes have resonated with my personal dreaming since I was a kid and the archaeologist in the story is sort of based on one of my idols, John Mulvaney. In his eighties now, Mulvaney is a man who crosses the disciplines of history, archaeology and anthropology. In fact I think he may have even excavated a thylacine on the Nullabor at some stage, the very territory of this tale ...


  1. I'm going to print out the other tiger blog, S, and read it at lesiure (oh, fuck - how do you spell that word?) I love blogs like these - mystery and information. I didn't know about the tigers - thanks.

  2. cheers Tom, their story is amazing. I've been a bit obsessed with tigers and dingoes for years, maybe it's my year of the dog status. My fried, who was a historian, had a theory about the dingoes. Because they were the first mammals proper in Australia, they may have ushered in a new culture of patriachalism that arrived about the same time as them. Fascinating!

  3. You beat me to it...I was going to mention that your love of dogs might be related to tour Chinese astrology.