Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tasmanian Devils: A Northern NSW/Tasmanian Connection

 Tasmanian Devil

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is a meat eating mammal.

It is also a marsupial, which means they have a small pouch to carry their babies.
It is the largest meat eating marsupial in the world.

They are nocturnal which means they sleep during the day and are awake during the night.
They now live only in Tasmania, an island state of Australia.

The devil is the same size as a small dog with a wide head and a short tail.
Male devils can weigh 12 kg and be 30 cm tall.

It has black fur and makes a loud and very scary screeching noise.

It will hunt other animals and also feed on dead animals.

The devil has strong teeth and jaws and will eat all its prey even bones and fur.


The Tasmanian Devil became extinct on the Australian mainland about 400 years before European settlement in 1788.

They were hunted in Tasmania; in the 1930's the Van Dieman's Land Company offered 25 cents for each male and 35 cents for each female killed.

In 1941 they became officially protected.

In 1996 the devils began to get very sick and then die with large tumours on their faces.
Devil facial tumour disease has greatly reduced the number of devils and now threatens their survival. In some areas 85% of devils have been found with the disease.

In the places where the tumours were seen first, devil numbers have dropped by 95%.
The tumour is spread by biting.

Because the devils are all closely related (not enough genetic diversity), the tumour cells are not seen as new; so the devil's immune system does not fight it.

In May 2008 the Tasmanian Devil was listed as endangered.

Programs are being tried by the Tasmanian government to reduce the impact of the disease.
About 60 devils without the disease have been captured and are to be kept as a tumour free group for rebreeding.

Scientists have been looking at ways to give the devils immunity but so far this has not worked.

So the race is on to breed large numbers of Tasmanian devils away from the disease-front.
It is critical that the devils being relocated are genetically diverse and are raised in a way to ensure they can be released into Tasmania once DFTD has run its destructive course.

 Devil Ark

This is where Devil Ark plays a vital role.

High in the hills of Barrington Tops in NSW is Devil Ark – a conservation breeding program for the Tasmanian devil.

Devil Ark is the largest conservation breeding program for the Tasmanian devil on mainland Australia.

At an altitude of 1,350 metres, Devil Ark provides the perfect breeding environment for devils.

The Tasmanian-like vegetation and cool, wet and snowy conditions means the devils feel right at home!

Devil Ark is very different to a zoo where small enclosures mean loss of natural behaviour.
Devils at Devil Ark are kept in a natural environment to maintain their wild behaviour and keepers intervene as little as possible.

This means a cost-effective and devil-friendly approach.

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