Thursday, 4 August 2011

Call of the Thylacine: Protect the Wild

KAKADU NATIONAL PARK, Australia -- Eleven thousand miles from my home in Wisconsin, this national park is one of my favorite places on the planet -- a vast area of wetlands, woodlands and rock formations that is home to a fantastic array of wildlife.

Kakadu (pronounced KACK-a-doo), one of Unesco's World Heritage sites, has almost 300 bird species (more than a third of Australia's birds), more than 60 mammals and more than 120 reptiles, including large saltwater crocodiles, monitor lizards and, oh yes, lots of snakes, the object of one of my earliest boyhood fascinations.

In addition to seeing some of its dangerous residents -- from a respectful distance -- I am hoping to rediscover the image of a magnificent marsupial, the thylacine, that I first saw on a visit more than 20 years ago. The image is still etched in my memory — not because I saw it in the flesh, but because it was painted on a rock.

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