The last captive thylacine died in Beaumaris Zoo, Hobart, on 7 September 1936. The creature’s death hardly caused a ripple of concern at the time, which is unsurprising due to Tasmania’s focus being how to drag itself from the clutches of the Great Depression.
Thylacinus cynocephalus, Tasmanian tiger or Tasmanian wolf was a marsupial, but due to convergent evolution they bore a striking resemblance to a medium to large dog. Being an apex predator their numbers were never high, but they were soon to dwindle dramatically due to fear, misgivings or, well, just plain victimization.
Branded a sheep and domestic fowl killer they were systematically trapped, shot and poisoned. When The Van Diemen’s Land company, and later the Tasmanian Government placed bounties on the creature, their survival prospects looked dim. Coupled with habitat loss, the introduction of feral dogs and a crippling disease, the thylacine appears to have sadly faded away to nothing more than memory, hearsay and legend.
Like any ‘dreamer’ who has walked through the Tasmanian bush, fantasising about catching a glimpse of the officially extinct marsupial, I was driven to write a poem, and then a song, about this elusive beast that has widely been treated with contempt by humans – until evidently too late.
I have recorded three versions of the song, of which two are included in my current CD as title tracks.
You can see the video clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdGHAmIEjM8
or listen to the acoustic version here: https://michaelcannon.bandcamp.com/track/invisible-acoustic