Pat Fiske & Cathryn Vasseleu
The Tasmanian Tiger is Australia’s most wanted animal. Its name stirs hearts and its fate is a wake up call. Its images tantalise. On a cave wall in Mok Clan country in far north Australia, a magnificent painting of the Tiger is the final resting place of an animal ancestor. The local people call it Djarnkerrk. Also called the Thylacine, it’s not a true ‘tiger’ but a pouched animal with striped flanks, a kangaroo’s tail and a dog’s head. Like the much smaller Tasmanian Devil, the Tasmanian Tiger is a predator. The British who colonised Tasmania from the early 1800s blamed it for killing their sheep. Bounty hunters shot it and there have been no verifiable sightings since the 1930s. But its story lives on all over the continent in rock art, footprints and fossil bones.
TIGER ON THE ROCKS goes in search of the traces. Thylacines survived through 25 million years of drastic ecological changes. Indigenous groups have long known the animal as a presence interlinked with the land and its people. In stunning landscapes where Thylacines once roamed, people from wide-ranging traditions share their experiences: Indigenous artists, rangers and custodians; biologists, bone hunters and archaeologists.
With creative use of landscapes, interviews, artworks, archives, and animation, TIGER ON THE ROCKS takes the audience into the Thylacine’s world. Sheep-killing beast, or tragic victim of human-induced extinction. Ancient painting on a rock or vivid spirit ancestor. Lost forever, or a timely reminder to respect the connection between human and animal, culture, nature and country. Multiple insights coalesce to throw light on the Tiger’s still-living power.