Queensland Tiger

Catlike MARSUPIAL of Australia.

Variant names: Native tiger, Queensland tiger-cat, Yaddi, Yarri (Herbert River area), Yedna tiger. In the Warlpiri (Australian) language of the Northern Territory, yarri is a verb meaning "to threaten" or "to attack." In Queensland, the term is also used for the Spotted-tailed quoll or Tiger-cat (Dasyurus macula-

tus). In the south part of Western Australia, it refers to the Blackbutt eucalyptus tree (Eucalyptus patens).

Physical description: Heavier build than a domestic cat. Length, 4-5 feet, including the tail. Shoulder height, 1 foot 6 inches. Short, coarse hair. Fawn or gray coat, with 2.5-inch black stripes encircling the body and tail. Round, catlike head, large in proportion to its body. Green eyes. Pointed ears. Prominent incisors. Short legs. Large paws with long front claws. Long tail.

Behavior: Arboreal. Has a savage disposition when cornered. Makes growling whines, snarls, and roars. Wallabies are its favorite food, though it also attacks livestock.

Tracks: Elongated toe pads, set more or less in a row. The same size as a large dog's. Grooming claws are evident.

Habitat: Rocky, forested areas.

Distribution: Queensland, especially in the coastal ranges: in northern Queensland, from Cairns to Cardwell; in southeastern Queensland, from Biggenden to Tamborine Mountain.

Significant sightings: The thirteen-year-old son of a police magistrate, Brinsley G. Sheridan, encountered and treed a striped cat near Cardwell, Queensland, on August 2, 1871. His dog annoyed it, whereupon it became savage and rushed down the tree at them. Sheridan became frightened and went home.

Robert Arthur Johnstone and a group of native police came across a large animal in a tree west of Cardwell in 1872. It jumped to another tree and came down tail first. It was fawn-colored with darker markings and had a long, thick tail and a round head with no visible ears. Johnstone found its lair, which was littered with the crushed bones of rock wallabies.

Accounts of Queensland tigers being killed were frequent in the early twentieth century, though no pelts or skeletons were retained: J. MacGeehan's dogs killed one at Kairi in 1900; J. R. Cunningham and his dog killed another at Gootchie sometime before 1926; a cat the size of a sheepdog was killed after it raided a henhouse at the head of the Mulgrave River around 1929; and A. W. Blackman and others shot one in the Cardwell Range in 1932.

In May or June 1940, Nigel and Charlie Tutt

452 QUANG KHEM

Thylacoleo Skull
Skull of the Marsupial lion (Thylacoleo carnifex), a possible candidate for the identity of the QUEENSLAND TIGER. (© 1999Jack Rabbit)

were hiking on Mount Stanley when they rounded a bend and saw a large cat sunning itself on a pine stump. They stopped about 20 feet away from it and noted that it was reddish, with dark-brown stripes all over its body and legs. It looked at them coolly for about twenty seconds and then bounded away.

A man named Gamer was riding through the brush near Bidwell, Queensland, in 1954 when he surprised a large, gray cat with dark-orange stripes. He was struck by its savage nature and large fangs.

From 1970 to 1973, naturalist Janeice Plun-kett collected more than 100 reports of this creature throughout Queensland.

Mike Jones ran across a black-striped, panther-sized animal feeding on a dead calf in the mountains near Mareeba, Queensland, in 1983.

On May 30, 1987, Greg Calvert found tracks larger than a dingo's near Hughenden, Queensland, and followed them for several hundred yards. They showed the grooming claws of a marsupial.

Present status: Tony Healy and Paul Cropper consider the animal extinct, the victim of strychnine baits intended for dingos. Rex Gilroy thinks it may persist, based on recent sightings. Possible explanations:

(1) A surviving Marsupial lion (Thylacoleo carnifex), a leopard-sized, arboreal marsupial that lived as recently as 10,000 years ago, is a good candidate. Its paws were fingerlike (with pseudo-opposable thumbs each bearing a huge claw) and designed for climbing trees. It had two huge incisors and two pairs of bladelike, carnassial teeth that gave it a distinct (though not necessarily catlike) look. Thylacoleo fossils have been found in localities across Australia, including at Darling Downs in Queensland.

(2) The Thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus), even if it were shown to persist on the mainland, is too doglike, and its stripes are only on its back. Moreover, it does not climb trees. The tiger's tusklike teeth, curved claws, leopardlike growl, and long tail are also unlike a Thylacine.

(3) The Spotted-tailed quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) is also called Tiger-cat and Yarri, but it is spotted, looks more like a weasel, and is not very fierce. Its body length is 2 feet, and its tail is 1 foot 6 inches long. Sources: Brinsley G. Sheridan, "Notice of the

Existence in Queensland of an Undescribed Species of Mammal," Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1871, pp. 629-630; Walter J. Scott, "Letter from W. J. Scott, Addressed to the Secretary, Respecting the Supposed 'Native Tiger' of Queensland," Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1872, p. 355; Walter J. Scott, "Second Letter from W. J. Scott on the Existence of a 'Native Tiger' in Queensland," Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1872, p. 796; Carl Lumholtz, Among Cannibals (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1889), pp. 100-101, 174-175; Robert Arthur Johnstone, Spinifex and Wattle: Reminiscences of Pioneering in North Queensland [1905] (East Melbourne, Australia: J. W. Johnstone-Need, 1984); G. H.

QUEENSLAND TIGER 453

H. Tate, "Mammals of Cape York Peninsula, with Notes on the Occurrence of Rain Forest in Queensland," Bulletin of the American Museum ofNaturalHistory 98 (1925): 563-616; Albert S. Le Souef and Harry Burrell, The Wild Animals of Australasia (London: George G. Harrap, 1926), pp. 330-331; Ellis Troughton, Furred Animals of Australia (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1947), pp. 48-50; Maurice Burton, "The Supposed 'Tiger-Cat' of Queensland," Oryx 1 (1952): 321-326; Bernard Heuvelmans, On the Track ofUnknown Animals (New York: Hill and Wang, 1958), pp. 210-220; Peter Makeig, "Is There a Queensland Marsupial Tiger?" North Queensland Naturalist 37 (1970): 6-8; Peter Murray and George Chaloupka, "The Dreamtime Animals: Extinct Megafauna in Arnhem Land Rock Art," Archaeology in Oceania 19 (1984): 105-116; Victor A. Albert, "A Bungle in the Jungle, or, Why Specialization Is Important in Cryptozoology," Cryptozoology 6 (1987): 119-120; Karl Shuker, Mystery Cats ofthe World (London: Robert Hale, 1989), pp. 209-222; Mike Dash, "The Lost Australians: Back from Extinction," Fortean Times, no. 62 (April-May 1992): 54-56; Tony Healy and Paul Cropper, Out ofthe Shadows: Mystery Animals of Australia (Chippendale, N.S.W., Australia: Ironbark, 1994), pp. 101-110; Malcolm Smith, Bunyips and Bigfoots: In Search of Australia's Mystery Animals (Alexandria, N.S.W., Australia: Millennium, 1996), pp. 69-93.

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  • tony
    Where does the queensland tiger live?
    10 months ago

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