It is one of the most famous of all of the Thylacine photographs. It is entitled “Mr Weaver bags a tiger”. Taken in 1869, it is one of only several 19th century Thylacine photographs to exist. An usually large albumin print made from a wet plate negative, it was created through a complicated time sensitive developing process. The only older Thylacine photo known to exist is one taken in 1864 by Frank Haes of an animal at the London Zoo.
This photo is a symbol of man’s ability to control the environment in which it lives, and it reflects the priorities that existed in the 1800s in Tasmania. European settlers introduced sheep into Tasmania in about 1820. They were hardy Marino sheep, renowned for their fine quality of wool. Developing agriculture at that time was seen as the foundation on which a prosperous and successful human settlement would build upon. As a result, protecting their livestock, even if it meant killing the native animals, was not questioned in terms of any ecological impact.
The Thylacine did indeed kill sheep as many historic witness statements show. And it is easy to relate to their situation in protecting their farming and agriculture. The sad part about all of this is that the Thylacine was not only killed, but it was specifically targeted to a point where it was possibly hunted to extinction. Today, to even see a Thylacine alive would likely bring tears to the eyes of most animal lovers. And in contrast, when you see such a beautiful animal, hanging lifeless, it truly does bring a tear to the eye.
“As humans usurp more and more of the Earth and the natural world continues to shrink, carnivores will bear a disproportionate toll of the effects. This is because carnivores tend to have larger home ranges, more extensive movements, and longer dispersal distances than their prey, so their spatial requirements bring them into greater contact with humans. Furthermore, carnivores tend to conflict directly with human interests because of the proclivity of many of them to kill animals that humans use themselves.”
Chair, IUCN/SSC Wolf Specialist Group
US Geological Survey
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA