Humans behind tiger's demise

Written By miftah nugraha on Kamis, 31 Januari 2013 | 19.55

HUMANS alone were responsible for the demise of Australia's extinct native predator, the Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, a new study has found.

Led by the University of Adelaide, the study has used new modelling to contradict a widespread belief that disease must have been a factor in the thylacine's demise.

The thylacine was a unique marsupial found throughout most of Tasmania before European settlement in 1803.

Between 1886 and 1909, the Tasmanian government encouraged people to hunt the carnivores and paid bounties on more than 2000 thylacine carcasses.

Only a handful of animals were located after the bounty was lifted and the last known thylacine was captured in 1933.

"Many people believe that bounty hunting alone could not have driven the thylacine extinct and therefore claim that an unknown disease epidemic must have been responsible," study leader Thomas Prowse said in a statement today.

Dr Prowse said the study tested that claim by developing a network of linked species and evaluated whether the impact of Europeans could have exterminated the thylacine, without any disease.

The new model simulated the effects of bounty hunting and habitat loss and also considered the impact of the reduction in the thylacine's prey, kangaroos and wallabies, because of human harvesting.

"We found we could simulate the thylacine extinction, including the observed rapid population crash after 1905, without the need to invoke a mystery disease," Dr Prowse said.

"We showed that the negative impacts of European settlement were powerful enough that, even without any disease epidemic, the species couldn't escape extinction."

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