Two thousand years ago Thylacines were widespread over mainland Australia, Tasmania, and were also found in New Guinea. Their range then declined on the mainland, probably because of human activity and competition from the Dingo. They survived in Tasmania until the 1930s.
By the time Thylacines were protected in 1936, they were probably already extinct. Thylacines were hunted, trapped and poisoned ruthlessly as potential killers of livestock. From 1890 to 1909, bounties were paid on dead Thylacines by the government.
Thylacines are Australia’s most notorious extinct animals; they were wiped out in just over 100 years of European settlement in Tasmania. While some people believe they are still alive in the wild, there is no firm evidence that this is true. The last known Thylacine died in the Hobart Zoo in 1936.
Because of the pattern of brown stripes over their bodies they were often called Tasmanian Tigers. But Thylacines were shy, fragile animals that sometimes died suddenly in captivity from stress. Thylacines had long, slender, dog-like bodies with stiff tails, large heads and incredibly powerful jaws.
There are large gaps in our knowledge of Thylacine biology. They made a husky barking sound, but there is no recording of it. Breeding probably occurred in winter and spring. Young Thylacines were born hairless and helpless like all marsupials, and lived in their mother’s pouch until they were too big to be carried. Males also had a pouch although it was not used to rear young. Adults probably lived to about seven years of age.
Historic accounts of their hunting behaviour describe it as stamina hunting, not stealth or ambush. With a stiff, relatively slow gait, they chased their prey until it was exhausted.