The thylacine is not extinct.
I say this without reservation. I don’t suppose the thylacine (or Tasmanian tiger) remains extant, or imagine, or even hope it is; I know categorically that the thylacine exists, because I have seen it in the flesh. I have also heard it and smelt it over the past 20 years and handled some mighty convincing eyewitness reports along the way. I have written extensively about the animal for various newspapers over the years, and my first book, Tiger Tales, was a collection of stories concerning old bushmen I interviewed, their sightings and recollections of the tiger as well as other sightings spanning the past 100 years.
But I am not relying on the testimony of others to convince me this animal is extant, I am backing my own judgement in declaring what I have actually observed.
It appears that I do this at risk of my own reputation, for I am only too aware that once I declare these truths, the sceptic brigade — bless their atheistic little hearts — immediately pounce like ravening wolves, gnashing their teeth, frothing at the mouth and hammering their extinction drums in my face in doing their level best to make me out to be a raving imbecile, a serial hoodwinker, or at worst a sadly disillusioned senile old tiger hunter who should be committed to an asylum. But honestly, such flattery, such adulation, such hero worship, such reverence is like the proverbial water off the duck’s back.
I know what I know, and that apparently is a darned lot more than my sceptics.
I have been searching for the thylacine for the past 46 years. The highlight was when I actually came face-to-face with a Tasmanian tiger in March 1995 in the Weld Valley wilderness of south-west Tasmania.
I well remember back in the 1940s-’50s era being drawn time and time again to the museum’s thylacine display, a particularly imposing and educational diorama of a group of thylacines in a splendid bush setting; I have never forgotten it. Although I didn’t place any great emphasis on the exhibit at the time, it remained firmly fixed in my memory, and it may have somehow provided the nucleus for my later adulation of this unique animal. Visiting the museum several years ago I was invited down to the storage area and inquired as to what had become of the thylacine diorama exhibit, but apparently no one knew where it was, if indeed it still existed.