Why I Believe

I have often been asked why I believe that Thylacines are not extinct. For many years, the main reason was simply that the people reporting these animals were so believeable. These were not crackpots or ferals. Believe me when you have spent a few years working in newspapers, you can quickly assess who is genuine and who is a nutter. The word is full of both but some people tend to be more believeable - people like defence force officers, school teachers, doctors, clergymen, ambulance officers and nurses. When these people report seeing a thylacine you have to take note of what they say because their training tends to educate them to be observant. Their reports note minor details which many people miss - things like the gait of the animal, shape of its head, locations of stripes and how the tail is carried. They do not mistake a mangy fox or a half-starved greyhound for a Thylacine.

I had a stunning experience in the early 1990s when a Thylacine researcher from interstate came to Gippsland to investigate the many reported sightings. He produced a packet of colored photographs of a dead Thylacine which he said had been shot by hunters in Tasmania. The photographs did not just show the carcass but there were clear snaps of the head, teeth, front feet, rear feet and even of the bullet entrance and exit wounds. The hunters had taken the photographs as proof but then realised that they would be condemned for what they had done by the weight of world opinion. My informant had somehow obtained a set of the photos without the hunters knowing. With no legal right to the photos or copyright permission likely to be forthcoming, those photos have never seen the light of day. I am surprised though that after more than 20 years, these photographs have not appeared. The informant continues to track reports of Thylacines and his name crops up from time to time in the media.

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