If the Tasmanian Tiger Were Found, What Should We Do? An Interdisciplinary Guide to Endangered Species Recovery

Tim W. Clark
Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, 301 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511 and Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, Box 2705, Jackson, WY 83001

Richard P. Reading
Denver Zoological Foundation, 2900 East 23rd Avenue, Denver, CO 80205

Richard L. Wallace
Environmental Studies Program, Ursinus College, P.O. Box 1000, Collegeville, PA 19426

Barbara A. Wilson
Deakin University, Geelong, Australia, V1C 3217

The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus), is a wolf-like carnivorous marsupial
last reported in the 1930s in Tasmania, an island state of Australia. Although the species is likely
extinct, sightings are reported annually. A fictional scenario is described in which a female thylacine
with four pouched young is captured. This scenario is explored and an interdisciplinary approach
to endangered species recovery is introduced. This approach is applicable to all endangered
species recovery efforts and focuses on the principal dimensions of recovery: (1) orienting to
the problem at hand and meeting it successfully; (2) understanding the recovery effort itself, its full
context, and the required management (decision) process; (3) using a broad range of methods; and
(4) integrating research results into a comprehensive recovery process (picture of the whole). By
using this interdisciplinary approach, recovery can be systematically understood, best managed,
and restoration prospects enhanced.