Tasmania is a rugged, sparsely populated island off the southern coast of Australia. There’s a lot of bush and woods in which to disappear, or in this case, where a supposedly extinct species can cling to life. The last Tasmanian Tiger died in captivity in 1936, but thousands of people keep reporting tiger sightings across the country. For The New Yorker, journalist Brooke Jarvis spends time in Tasmania, examining the debate about whether this uniquely antipodal carnivore is extinct or alive, eking out its existence while avoiding scientific efforts to document it. What Jarvis finds is a species that represents colonizers’ remorse, the need for mystery in a world of diminishing scale, and one more expression of industrial society’s ruination of the earth.

The tiger mystifies Tasmanians. It’s a specter now, a myth. In the wider view, it’s part of a group of creatures like the Loch Ness Monster…

View original post 534 more words