Thylacine extinction: We have only ourselves to blame

A new study suggests a model where people were a sufficient factor in the demise of the Tasmanian Tiger.

Humans killed off the thylacine: study

Humans alone were responsible for the demise of Australia’s extinct native predator, the Tasmanian Tiger, or thylacine, a new study has found.

Led by the University of Adelaide, the study has used new modelling to contradict a widespread belief that disease must have been a factor in the thylacine’s demise.

The new model simulated the effects of bounty hunting and habitat loss and also considered the impact of the reduction in the thylacine’s prey, kangaroos and wallabies, due to human harvesting.

“We found we could simulate the thylacine extinction, including the observed rapid population crash after 1905, without the need to invoke a mystery disease,” Dr Prowse said.

“We showed that the negative impacts of European settlement were powerful enough that, even without any disease epidemic, the species couldn’t escape extinction.”

The Tassie tiger is a powerful symbol of man’s impact on a species. Many of us have seen the black and white video of what was considered the last one in the Hobart Zoo in 1936. Once a population is so diminished, it can never recover, not if we keep them in zoos, harvest their DNA and clone them. You need more than a few individual animals in order to repopulate.

Many people still claim to see the animals in the wild but the evidence is not very good that they exist. The fact there there are just so few that COULD have survived suggest that after this time, even if there were a few stragglers, nature and man have taken their toll.

Thylacine/Tasmanian Tiger. Extinct.

Thylacine/Tasmanian Tiger

And it may have all been for nought. Thylacine Hunted into Extinction for No Reason, Study Reveals – John R. Platt – Scientific American –

  2 comments for “Thylacine extinction: We have only ourselves to blame

  1. Massachusetts
    February 1, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    I always feel bad when I think about these critters, and what might have been. I wonder if they would still be around if there hadn’t been the big bounty hunting episode, even if their habitat and prey populations had been decreased significantly? I’m inclined to think so but I’m not clear how that fits into the study model. It would be interesting to tweak the model and see how close an animal can come but still pull back. Maybe that would help figure out crisis intervention strategies with modern day danger zones, like where massive deforestation is occurring, etc.?

  2. garethl
    February 2, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    Irrespective of the results of this study the fact remains that a disease did sweep through both the captive and wild populations.

    Although I haven’t read the study yet I have to wonder how predictions can be made without any definitive information on the animal’s habits and behavior. I’m concerned about the standard of research into these animals.

Comments are closed.