Author sees thylacine twice

 THE Tasmanian tiger appeared to Col Bailey for the second time in 1995, while he was taking a leak in the bush. 

``It shot out of some ferns behind me - I thought it was a cattle dog at first,'' he said.

``But then I was face-to-face with the darn thing.''

Mr Bailey said an old bushman had told him exactly which part of the Weld River Valley he would find the fabled creature. 

``But I just went into lock down,'' he said. 

``I didn't even take my camera out of my pack.

``Now I've only got memory to back me up.'' 

Mr Bailey said the encounter was the dramatic highlight of his memoir, The Shadow of the Thylacine , which is released next month.

It will be the New Norfolk author's second work on the officially-extinct carnivore, following the release of Tiger Tales  in 2003. 

Mr Bailey has spent his life chasing the thylacine.

He has trekked through acres of remote bushland to chance a glimpse of the beast's fabled hide, even chartering a helicopter on occasions to drop him in the middle of nowhere. 

Mr Bailey said he first spotted the tiger along the shores of the Coorong, South Australia, which eventually led to his move to Tasmania. 

The 76-year-old has no doubt that the creature is still out there. 

``Expanding civilisation has pushed it right back into the bush, to places where people can't really get to,'' he said. 

``About 20 or 30 years ago it was still hanging around settled areas, but logging and tourism have pushed the frontiers back further and further.''

Mr Bailey said that the chances of a sighting a tiger had almost died out with the old bushmen who hunted and tracked the animals themselves. 

``A lot of my experience came from the guys who tracked the animal in the bush,'' he said.

``That's what really got me started. 

``The new hunters coming on don't have the advantage of talking to these guys. 

``They've only got text books and media reports.'' 

Mr Bailey said he last heard a tiger's call in 2008 - while he was travelling along the West Coast. 

He said that installing still-cameras in remote areas was not an effective way of finding one. 

``I won't have a bar of those cameras, the tiger's main weapon is his nose.''

``He can smell people a mile off. The cameras are being set up by people, so he's not going anywhere near them.''

Mr Bailey said he fears what people would do to the Thylacine if they found it. 

``For the sake of the animal - we've got to protect it.'' 

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