Australia: the Tasmanian devil’s comeback

The pouch devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), also known as the Tasmanian devil, has been the largest living predator since the extinction of the pouch wolf in the first decades of the 20th century.

Both species disappeared from mainland Australia thousands of years ago, but the latter was still able to persist on Tasmania.

Tasmanian devils have been born in the wild in mainland Australia, more than 3,000 years after they died out in the country.
Seven baby Tasmanian devils — known as joeys — were born at the 988-acre Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary in New South Wales, Australian NGO Aussie Ark said in an Instagram post on Monday.

Tasmanian devils died out on the mainland after the arrival of dingoes — a species of wild dog — and were restricted to the island of Tasmania.

Despite a strict protection program, the Tasmanian devil is acutely endangered. This is mainly due to a contagious cancer.
The disease is contagious.

It is transmitted through bites, which are common during the mating season or when the animals are fighting for food. Individual cancer cells reach the partner or opponent and can settle there. The animals, which can be up to 70 centimeters long and weigh twelve kilograms, are terribly disfigured by facial cancer.

Many die in agony because they can no longer eat because of the ulcers in their mouth and throat.

Aussie Ark identified the tiny joeys in the mothers’ pouches.

Since the emergence of cancer, the devil population has shrunk dramatically – by about 80 percent, as experts report.
They feared that the Tasmanian devil might become extinct.

But now it’s done: Seven Tasmanian devil babies – known as Joeys – were born!!

Devilishly loud and stinky

Conservationists rate the Tasmanian Devil reintroduction program as “historic,” similar to the return of wolves to Yellowstone National Park in the US in the 1990s.
Tasmanian devils are known for their extremely loud growls, powerful jaws and dogged turf wars.
This, together with the body odor, which is very unpleasant when aroused and its black color, earned it its devilish name.

Aussie Ark plans to settle more Tasmanian devils in the sanctuary in the coming years, which is fenced off to ward off voracious enemies and to protect against traffic.

“We’ve been able to historically — albeit in its infancy — return the devil to mainland, and today is another milestone entirely,” Tim Faulkner, president of Aussie Ark, said in a video posted on Instagram.

Faulkner said it was a “monumental” moment in rebuilding Australia’s ecosystem.

“This release of devils will be the first of many,” he said. “We’ve bred nearly 400 joeys, and we’re at the point now that we’re able to harvest some to return to the wild.”

The settlement of pouch martens, nasal sacs and rock kangaroos is also planned. (red, APA, May 26, 2021)

And I mean…“We never saw the wild devils,” Tim Faulkner says. “So getting to know them meant that we had to have exemplary observational skills. If we tried to look at a female every day and bothered her in doing so, we could compromise breeding, and breeding is the goal. So we had to figure out how to assess the welfare of the individuals without actually seeing a single devil.”

By honing their observational and husbandry skills, Devil Ark keepers have successfully increased the population of devils to 180 individuals, putting the facility at capacity. Devil Ark now aims to double its population to 360, with the ultimate goal of someday returning these animals to a wild habitat free of Devil Facial Tumor Disease.
These efforts mark the difference between a future for this species and its otherwise likely demise.

A project that makes animal rights activists’ hearts beat faster ??

Australia has the worst mammal extinction rate in the world and the re-introduction will help re-balance the ecology that was damaged by the introduction of invasive predators.

My best regards to all, Venus

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