Captive breeding programs are saving the Tasmanian Devils from the brink of extinction. As one of the largest living carnivorous marsupials in the world, the endemic Australian animal once roamed throughout mainland Australia. It is now confined only to Tasmanian bushland and breeding centres in the mainland. Despite all efforts to preserve the species, it is estimated that there are less than 10% of Tasmanian Devils currently left in the wild.
This project was funded through generous donations from FNPW supporters across Australia and beyond.
The endangered species is an asset to Australia and is a close living relative of the now extinct species, the Tasmanian Tiger. With the discovery of Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) in 1996, numerous organisations have been working to protect, breed and try to find a vaccine for the disease. One of these projects is Devil Ark, a Tasmanian Devil captive breeding program in NSW’s Barrington Tops. FNPW is working with Devil Ark to ensure the survival of the Tasmanian devil through an innovative breeding program.
“Devil Ark is creating an insurance population of Tasmanian Devils and has been running since 2011. As a cure for DFTD has yet to be found, this is our only other option. This is vital for the survival of this species,” says CEO of FNPW, Ian Darbyshire.
“Australia has amazing wildlife that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world, one of which is the Tasmanian Devil. These projects, whether they focus on the Tasmanian Devil, Koalas or the Murray River Turtle, all need much more help in order to save the species. Conservation is important, but it is also costly so that’s why FNPW needs to find funding. These programs work but they need help to keep them going”.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
FNPW supports projects across Australia. In the spirit of reconciliation we acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Country and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture.
PROGRESS OF THIS PROJECT
The project is ongoing.
FNPW has supported the captive breeding program and the protection of Tasmanian Devils in the wild since 2015.
Latest news on this project.
In the grant period, Devil Ark continued to manage up to 180 Tasmanian Devils, had a record breaking breeding season, welcomed the 200th joey to be born at Devil Ark, and continued to develop as a world class conservation organisation. Devil Ark recognises the generous contribution of the Foundation of National Parks and Wildlife, in helping Devil Ark achieve its goals!
The Tasmanian devil population at Aussie Ark continues to have an insignificant death rate and injury rate since the beginning of 2016. 2016 Joeys weaned naturally from mothers were caught and placed into pre-reproductive yards in December and settled in well. There were approximately 20 animals moved to other facilities within Australia this year providing breeding stock as well as ambassador animals for public engagement and education. The Devil Ark model has been maintained which sees young animals being born roughly equal post reproductive animals dying of natural causes.
The 2017 breeding season has progressed as planned and positive reproductive behaviours were observed by Aussie Ark keepers throughout recent months with a confirmed joey count of 47 joeys, a record breeding season for the project. This fantastic result is largely attributed to the natural conditions of Devil Ark, including routinely renewed suitable habitat, ongoing high standards of health care and close monitoring by Devil Ark field staff. Thorough inspections of all Tasmanian devils were conducted regularly. During these health checks animals were thoroughly examined, treated with preventative medicines, weighed, sampled for DNA if needed, and females were pouch checked.
Primarily due to the ongoing success of Devil Ark, the program was able to diversify and grow this year to include Eastern quolls, Southern brown bandicoots, Parma wallabies and Long nosed potoroos. Eight additional fenced areas were created for founding individuals. Those animals have settled well, and Eastern quolls have produced 18 joeys – the first to be born in the Barrington region in 100 years!