Tasmanian Devil

Tasmanian DevilTasmanian Devil

Almost certainly the best known Tasmanian Devil in the world is the Looney Toons character, Taz Devil. To millions of children around the world, Taz Devil became an icon for this unusual Australian species and Taz Devil does in fact have similarities to the real Devils. Tasmanian Devils are shy, mischievous and sensitive (however the real Tasmanian Devils don’t spin!), and they will scavenge what food they can get hold of.

However, unlike the cartoon, Tasmanian Devils are sadly disappearing from our world. A facial cancer known as the Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) is threatening the existence of the Tasmanian Devil, which could leave Taz Devil on TV screens as the only existing symbol of this species.

History of the Tasmanian Devil

The Tasmanian Devil got its name because of their unusual nocturnal screams, which are often described by people who hear it as ‘blood-curdling’. They were once found throughout all of Australia but disappeared on mainland Australia after the arrival of the Dingo. Wild Tasmanian Devils can now only be found in Tasmania; however population numbers have dropped significantly since 1996 due to DFTD. Click here to watch a video of the Tasmanian Devil.

About DFTD

DFTD is a new fatal and infectious disease that is restricted only to the Tasmanian Devil. DFTD is characterised by large tumours on the face and neck which is killing Tasmanian Devils in the wild at an alarming rate. Once these tumours are visible, there is a certainty that the Tasmanian Devil will starve to death.

DFTD is easily transmittable, spread when a diseased devil bites another or a healthy devil and a diseased devil both feed from the same carcass or road kill (a devil’s main food source). This disease spreads very quickly and is incurable. DFTD can now be found in over 60% of Tasmania.

An ‘endangered’ species

In May 2008, the Tasmanian Devil was listed as endangered under Tasmania’s Threatened Species Protection Act 1995. The listing reflects the need to do everything in our power to save this iconic species from extinction, which could happen within 20 years if we do nothing.

What can be done to save the Tasmanian Devil?

Baby Tasmanian DevilA dedicated team of conservationists from Tasmania are working to save the Tasmanian Devil from extinction. The Devil Island Project, founded by Bruce and Maureen Englefield, is using land donated to the Government to establish a wild population of ‘disease-free’ devils.

An environmental prototype with double security fencing to prevent diseased devils from entering “Devil Island” has been established where Tasmanian Devils can roam, live and breed naturally.

This will hopefully allow disease-free Tasmanian Devils to increase in population and therefore save the species.

What can you do?

Find out all the information you can about the plight of the Tasmanian Devil. Get your school involved in raising money for the Tasmanian Devil or join others in your community for a fundraiser.

Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors has assisted with funding the Devil Island Project prototype. You can donate to the Devil Island Project through the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors website, www.wildlifewarriors.org.au, or visit www.devilislandproject.com.

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