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Still Waters

Climate change behind Tasmanian tigers loss

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The mystery loss of Tasmanian tigers from mainland Australia was likely caused by climate change and not wild dogs or hunting by Aborigines, scientists said Thursday.

The enigmatic animal—also known as the thylacine—was once widespread across the vast country, but was wiped out on the mainland around 3,000 years ago.

They survived in the southern island state of Tasmania until 1936 when the last known one died in captivity at Hobart Zoo after the species was hunted to extinction in the wild.

https://phys.org/news/2017-09-drought-dingos-mainland-australia-tiger.html

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I'm sure it's just me, but that animal species just doesn't look physically capable of surviving long-term in a preditor environment.

But for all I know it could have been vicious as hell.

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Posted (edited)

I would imagine that because their numbers had already dwindled massively because of hunting (not only by the aboriginal) but also white man with guns. A long severe drought or two, would have probably been enough to tip the scale for their unfortunate extinction. Also, with the animal being contained on an Island state away from the mainland where they were unable to spread in more numbers, then it stands to good reason that their overall chance of survival was extremely slim indeed. No matter which way we look at it, the chance of continued survival was simply against these poor creatures in more ways than one.  

Edited by Astra.
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3 hours ago, Astra. said:

I would imagine that because their numbers had already dwindled massively because of hunting (not only by the aboriginal) but also white man with guns. A long severe drought or two, would have probably been enough to tip the scale for their unfortunate extinction. Also, with the 'remaining animals' being contained on an Island state away from the mainland where they were unable to spread in more numbers, then it stands to good reason that their overall chance of survival was extremely slim indeed. No matter which way we look at it, the chance of continued survival was simply against these poor creatures in more ways than one.  

Correction (bold) as per previous post. 

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Yeah. The paper this article is discussing is about the effect climate change had on the extinction of the Mainland population, and the last date we have from there is apr 3,5kya. It doesn't deal with the final Tasmanian extinction, so Europeans don't come into it.  

9 hours ago, pallidin said:

I'm sure it's just me, but that animal species just doesn't look physically capable of surviving long-term in a preditor environment.

But for all I know it could have been vicious as hell.

It wasn't viscous, it was actually probably moderately curious at times,  but essentially quite shy. In any event, they survived for millions of years in the presence of some fairly nasty predators. In fact it, and its relatives, were the second from top mammalian predator in its ecosystem at the arrival of humans into Australia. And it seems that in a one to one confrontation, the thylacine was larger and more powerful than the Eutherian predators, dingoes, that supposedly ousted it. Although the dingo probably would have had the advantage as they would have lived in larger groups. But that's another story. 

 

9 hours ago, Astra. said:

I would imagine that because their numbers had already dwindled massively because of hunting (not only by the aboriginal) but also white man with guns. A long severe drought or two, would have probably been enough to tip the scale for their unfortunate extinction. Also, with the animal being contained on an Island state away from the mainland where they were unable to spread in more numbers, then it stands to good reason that their overall chance of survival was extremely slim indeed. No matter which way we look at it, the chance of continued survival was simply against these poor creatures in more ways than one.  

As for the their final extinction in Tasmania, there was no climate change involved there, certainly no drought, and very few guns, most thylacines were snared, a handful were shot. There were though economic factors, both in Tasmania, and the globally that led to the species' demise. Although as Nic Haygarth's recent paper demonstrates, they weren't especially targeted, they were in fact fairly incidental to the intensive fur trapping that took place in the State. 

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So we just put the nail on the coffin in Tasmania ? That's a way to put blame apart. We will see what we can find for all the species we bury each year..

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41 minutes ago, Jon the frog said:

So we just put the nail on the coffin in Tasmania ? That's a way to put blame apart. We will see what we can find for all the species we bury each year..

Doesn't matter what we feel about it now, it's done and that's the truth of why it was done. 

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9 hours ago, oldrover said:

 As for the their final extinction in Tasmania, there was no climate change involved there, certainly no drought, and very few guns, most thylacines were snared, a handful were shot. There were though economic factors, both in Tasmania, and the globally that led to the species' demise. Although as Nic Haygarth's recent paper demonstrates, they weren't especially targeted they were in fact fairly incidental to the intensive fur trapping that took place in the State. 

Thank you for your input oldrover, you certainly seem to know much concerning the history of this extinct animal. From what I have gathered tho, these creatures were targeted from the year 1830 to 1909. Apparently there were thousands slaughtered because of a bounty offered. Even after the animal became scarce, the bounty still remained opened. The reason for this hysterical culling was that the tiger was blamed for killing sheep, where as the dingo was probably the real culprit for killing the sheep on the mainland. It's still a sad story to say the least for the Tassie tiger. All in all, it seems that man was the blame for their initial extinction, and other factors such as drought etc...just finished them off completely. 

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no, it was humans causing their existence like many other Australian animals

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Just now, Astra. said:

Thank you for your input oldrover, you certainly seem to know much concerning the history of this extinct animal. From what I have gathered tho, these creatures were targeted from the year 1830 to 1909. Apparently there were thousands slaughtered because of a bounty offered. Even after the animal became scarce, the bounty still remained opened. The reason for this hysterical culling was that the tiger was blamed for killing sheep, where as the dingo was probably the real culprit for killing the sheep on the mainland. It's still a sad story to say the least for the Tassie tiger. All in all, it seems that man was the blame for their initial extinction, and other factors such as drought etc...just finished them off completely. 

Yes, there were several bounty schemes. But only in Tasnania, and the paper only deals with the earlier mainland extinction. Climate change played no part in the Tasmanian extinction, that was purely hunting, although not as is often suggested, by dedicated tiger hunters. We still killed all the thylacines, but it wasn't the bounty schemes that drove us, in most cades the tigers were a by product of general fur trapping. 

Dingoes don't come into it, where there were dingoes and sheep, there were no thylacines, and where there were sheep and thylacines there were no ding0es. Just feral dogs. 

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The governments bounty scheme ended in 1909, after a crash in numbers in that year, although numbers had halved in 07 and 08 from usual. The Van Diemen's Land Company scheme lasted till 1914 at Woolnorth, a big sheep station in the NW. But no payments had been made for several years. The big rush in tje next two decades was for scientiffic and zoo specimens, or at least that's who the yrappers sold to. But still they were just caught rarely, and by people tarhetting possum and wallaby prlts. That's where the real money was.

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12 hours ago, oldrover said:

 Dingoes don't come into it, where there were dingoes and sheep, there were no thylacines, and where there were sheep and thylacines there were no ding0es. Just feral dogs. 

That's very interesting. Can you provide any articles / records that may explain this in further detail..as I am genuinely curious.

As I have mentioned earlier, you seem to be rather knowledgeable about the extinction of Australia's thylacines, especially from a person who lives in Wales. May I ask, what got you so interested in this particular species of extinct animal ?... 

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22 hours ago, qxcontinuum said:

no, it was humans causing their existence like many other Australian animals

Did you mean to say 'extinction'...rather than 'existence' qx.....or am I going to be sorry that I even bothered to ask. :rolleyes:..  

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44 minutes ago, Astra. said:

Did you mean to say 'extinction'...rather than 'existence' qx.....or am I going to be sorry that I even bothered to ask. :rolleyes:..  

yup ...funny... to heck with this spelling self checker. 

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8 hours ago, Astra. said:

That's very interesting. Can you provide any articles / records that may explain this in further detail..as I am genuinely curious.

As I have mentioned earlier, you seem to be rather knowledgeable about the extinction of Australia's thylacines, especially from a person who lives in Wales. May I ask, what got you so interested in this particular species of extinct animal ?... 

My interest in the thylacine dates back to when I was a kid, when I first saw the animatronic tiger used in the ABC series the 'Nature of Australia'. 

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ-vuyXmjU3nL6Q4v5MLeqAxRuHk5ILhnmxaRU5XSVWQSDWZofkhA

It looks pretty dismal to me now, very cliched, completely the wrong colour, and not really like one at all, but at time and never having heard of them before it captivated me completely. That was 30 years ago, nowadays I'm researching the background to the 'last tiger at the zoo'. A short biography of Elias Churchill the man who's credited with its capture, and a review of the evidence surrounding it. So really this means going back to 1921, and all tigers captured after this time, with a special focus on the back story of Beaumaris Zoo at its final Queen's Domain location in Hobart. Hopefully it'll be out this year.

My major concern isn't so much the specifics of any individual animal, more that the evidence is being used selectively in the literature, to create an appealing and romanticised narrative, rather than admitting that, in most cases, we really just don't know who caught who, when. And this is the way the evidence is pointing.  

And you're quite right, there aren't too many near me, but there is one mount about 40 miles up the road in Cardiff, but which I've never seen. 

As for articles regarding the sheep/dingoes etc, I'm not sure what you mean exactly? Sheep arrived with the Europeans, so of course about 200 years ago, dingoes with an as yet fully unidentified migration (usually described as 'Asian seafarers') into the mainland around 4kya, but never reached Tasmania, which had been isolated apr 6-7,000 years previously. So, while there were dingoes and sheep on the Mainland, and thylacines and sheep in Tasmania, the three species never existed together in any one place.

What's overlooked sometimes is that there were three local, one of which was the final, extinction of the thylacine. Earliest, as far as the evidence says now, was in New Guinea with the latest remains being dated to apr 5kya. Then the Mainland apr 3.5 kya (3.2 in the paper), and finally and absolutely in Tasmania around 80 years ago.  Each time the cause was probably different, if not completely then at least to some extent, as each would have been a combination of factors. New Guinea, no one knows much about, the Mainland; various theories, the timing of the arrival of dingoes seems coincidental, although some people blame us, but then we shared Australia with the tiger for at least 43,000 years. Although, there is evidence of different land management/hunting practices at around this time too, but it's out of my area so I don't know too much about that. Plus, there's this new paper which suggests a separation into two of the mainland population. I haven't read it yet, but I think it'll prove interesting. Tasmania, it was hunting by Europeans pure and simple, there's the suggestion disease may have played a part, but the evidence isn't good. Mass fur trapping is in my opinion the primary, if not exclusive, cause.  

If you're interested in general sources on the subject though I'd recommend the Thylacine Museum, that's free on-line and the best and most informative source anywhere. Paddle's 2000, The Last Tasmanian Tiger is full of research, but terribly error prone, and very biased, but still essential reading, Guiler is another major source. In terms of the new fresh, and much more objective approach I'd recommend Nic Haygarth's recent paper on the mythos of dedicated tiger hunters, and his blog is a good source on the tiger itself, but better on the backgrounds of the people who shared the landscape with it. Also the Extinct Plants and Animals Database has excellent thylacine content. 

Another on-line resource is, as unlikely as Facebook may sound, is the Thylacine Open Debate and Discussion Page, on there are some of the best private researchers there are. Avoid any articles written by anyone without a background or long standing interest in the subject, they're always dross, and there's a lot of outdated and wrong information out there. 

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Cheers oldrover, I'll check out some of those sources that you have shared as soon as I get the time. I appreciate all of your information :tu:...

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Maybe dying was the cause of the decline.

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