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