mandag den 26. marts 2012

The letter and the thylacine

It seems to me that danish cryptozoology (i.e. me!) is besieged by letters at the moments. During a recent clean-up, I came across a bundle of letters that used to belong to my mother. She died almost 17 years ago, so I had completely forgotten their existence. Never mind - I was just about to throw them away, when a single word caught my attention; "pungulv" - that's danish for "thylacine". The letters turned out to be from a friend of my mothers. She had emigrated to Australia shortly after the Second World War with her family, the Temmings, but she and my mother kept contact for many years until what was left of the family returned to Denmark in the early 70's.
Anyway, I promptly sat down and started writing old letters. Unfortunately there was only one letter mentioning the thylacine, but that was interesting enough. The letter was dated autum 1956, but I don't know if it was autumn in Australia or in Denmark, so... Apparantly there was a lot of things written in Australian newspapers about the thylacine at the time, and my mothers friend Alice mentions this as well as the fact that she and her family had actually seen thylacines twice. The first time in 1954 when they visited Tasmania looking for a property to buy. Apparantly they were driving along a road in Northwestern Tasmania, when a thylacine walked out on the road and just stopped and stared at the car. It didn't even budge when they stopped nect to it to have a good look. After a few minutes it just sauntered away into the forest and disappeared. They had no camera, but my mothers friend describes it very detalied in her letter, so I have no doubt she actually saw a thylacine. The second sighting was from early 1956, but the by far most interesting thing about that was, that this apparantly took place in New South Wales some 300 km west of Melbourne. Unfortunately the description is tantalinzingly brief - it only says something along the lines of "oh, and we saw another one of those stripy things on a trip to aunt Helga in January". Aunt Helga lived on a farm in New South Wales. I will now try to track down any members of the Temming family to see if any one of them remembers my mother and perhaps has old letters or anything from their time in Australia.
As far as I know these sightings have never been documented or published before, so this is a first.

The screwy squirrels

For many years a small population of siberian chipmunks have been cavorting in forest a few kilometers outside of Copenhagen. Nobody has the slightest idea where they have come from. Common logic would dictate, that they are the descendants of escapees from some hamfisted local who forgot to close the cage on his pet chipmunks. The population has been rather small for many years - sightings goes back at least to sometime in the 70's - but now they seem to be on the rise. And in a strange quirk of fate a nature school has opened smack in the middle of their general living quarters. How's that for at funny twist of fate? What's even more interesting is a letter recently sent to the writer of this blog. It is from 1954, from the father of the person who sent the letter to me. In it he describes very clearly to a friend hos he has relased 4 squirrels in the woods near his home, very close to where the animals are found now. This presumably is the original release, but unfortunately he doesn't say anything about where he got the squirrels from - I presume siberian chipmunks were not readily available in the pet trade in Denmark in the early 1950's. And I also wonder why nobody then saw neither hair nor hide of the chipmunks for at least 20 years until sightings started to be reported in the middle 1970's. I willinvestigate further, and try to get a little bit closer to the critters.