The disappearing act of the Tasmanian DevilBY DIONNE LISTER
For all you animal lovers out there, today I’m doing an article on Tasmanian Devils – the world’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial, which is only found in Tasmania. In the early days of Australian settlement, Devils were considered a nuisance and were poisoned and hunted until they became a rarity.
Fortunately laws were passed in 1941 which protected this animal, and numbers were looking healthy in 1990, but today things have changed. The Devil has become endangered for three main reasons; Devil facial tumour disease (DFTD), road fatalities and competition for habitat and food from foxes (an introduced species).
The Devil is a cute, black and white, furry creature which can grow as large as 30 cm and 12 kg. They are nocturnal and eat small mammals, birds and even wallabies. Even though their endangerment is depressing, there is some good news out there. The ‘Save the Tasmanian Devils’ program has been set up by the Tasmanian and Australian governments and is making progress into saving this adorable but feisty marsupial.
There are awareness programs to encourage Tasmanian drivers to slow down and be on the look-out, captive breeding programs of healthy animals, monitoring of wild Devils, and important research being carried out into DFTD with an Australian Scientist, Anne-Maree Pearse being awarded a prestigious Japanese prize for her breakthrough research into this cancerous disease. Anne-Maree is the first to recognise that DFTD is a cancer which is passed from animal to animal by blood contact, which mainly occurs when the animals bite each other (which is a frequent occurrence).
It is sad to see another beautiful animal so close to disappearing but you can help. All donations made to The Save The Tasmanian Devil Appeal, go to research into their biggest threat, DFTD and management initiatives. If you want to help please visit their website.