The hunter lies in wait, watching silently as the beast yawns, opening its giant jaws. His pulse quickens as the tiger turns to face him, and a thought occurs… what if his prey is not alone? Suddenly, there is a sound behind him, a slight snuffle followed by the crack of a dried branch. The hunter has now become the hunted…
Actually, what was more likely to have happened was the tiger took one look at the hunter and ran, as they were reportedly very nervous and shy by nature, but it makes for a much better fable if we imagine them as dangerous beasts.
There aren’t many creatures that are deadly to humans in Tasmania. Tiger snakes are one that comes to mind, along with the rare occurrence of an allergic reaction to an animal that would to most people only give a nasty sting.
Even the Tasmanian tiger, which was hunted to near-extinction in the mid-1930s and officially declared extinct in Tasmania in 1986, is reported to have not been a real danger to humans, only their livestock, which makes one wonder what inspired such total eradication of these creatures in the wild. Certainly our need to protect our livelihoods on the farm is a valid one, but with dingoes and crocodiles still prolific in our northern neighbourhoods, what happened to the Tasmanian tiger that led to its extinction?
This theme is explored in The Wilderness Gallery’s new exhibition Thylacine – The Tasmanian Tiger Exhibition. In conjunction with the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, The Wilderness Gallery has put together the world’s largest private exhibition of thylacine material in a permanent display telling the story of this mysterious animal that has caused debate around the world.
Chairman of Trustees of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Sir Guy Green, officially opened the exhibition, describing it as a highly professional, wonderfully comprehensive presentation that will provide visitors with a unique opportunity to increase their knowledge and understanding of the Tasmanian tiger.
“This exhibition gives further fine expression to the most productive partnership which exists between TMAG and the Federal Group, which was recently recognised by the award of the Australia Business Art Foundation Partnering Award for Tasmania,” Sir Guy said.
The exhibition comprises a number of rare artefacts from the Federal Group Collection, as well as a thylacine skin rug that was purchased for TMAG and the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery by the Federal Group in 2002.
“This exhibition is sure to reinforce the significance of our natural and cultural heritage and the journey we have taken on the road to conservation,” Wilderness Gallery General Manager Mark Whitnell said.
“Visitors can learn about the tiger’s unusual biological features through a replica thylacine skeleton, the first whole-mammal skeleton produced in Australia using Stereolithographic BioModelling.
“They can also enter a Trappers’ Hut and travel back in time listening to the stories of the old trappers and snarers; and view recorded footage of the last Tasmanian tiger and images of tiger hunters.”
The exhibition was put together by Wilderness Gallery Manager Tracy Thomas and Scott Marston, together with Kathyrn Medlock, Brian Looker and Nikki King-Smith of TMAG.
Set within the grounds of Cradle Mountain Chateau, The Wilderness Gallery is the largest privately owned photographic gallery in Australia. It features 10 rooms of works from the world’s finest nature photographers.
The gallery is open daily from 10am until 5pm. Entry is $7 for adults, $4.50 for children, or free if you stay at Cradle Mountain Chateau.
For further details visit www.puretasmania.com.au
Words: Paula Catchpole
Images: Chris Crerar