Tasmanian Devils Return To The Australian Mainland For The First Time In 3,000 Years

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Tasmanian Devils Return To The Australian Mainland For The First Time In 3,000 Years

Conservationists and activists, including celebrities Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky, have celebrated after the Tasmanian Devil returned to the wild on mainland Australia for the first time in 3,000 years.

11 of the world's largest carnivorous marsupials were released last month and it is hoped that they will go on to breed whole new generations of Devils. Since 2008, the Tasmanian Devil has been classified as endangered and many conservationist groups are now working flat out to save the animals and their habitat on the island of Tasmania, which sits 240km south of the Australian mainland.

Tim Faulkner, a leading Tasmanian Devil conservationist, said of the release project:

"It is the first time in 3,000 years, or thereabouts, that the Tasmanian Devil has roamed mainland forests and as an apex predator, it's critically important. This release of devils will be the first of many. 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."

Tasmanian Devils are around the size of a small dog and is famed for its aggressiveness when cornered. They are also known for their stocky build and rather horrible aroma. However, their cute faces have endeared them to many, and they were the inspiration for the chaotic 'Taz of Tasmania' cartoon show of the 90s. They became the world's largest carnivorous marsupial in 1936 after the extinction of the Thylacine.

The Devils themselves were wiped off of mainland Australia as a result of dingoes and wild dogs becoming more prevalent. It is thought that there are only around 10,000 to 15,000 Devils living in the wild on Tasmania and that their numbers have declined by 80% since the mid-1990s. While habitat destruction is to blame for some of the decline in Devil populations a disease known as devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) has had a more significant impact on the number of Devils.

First discovered in 1996, the disease is now widespread and is classed as a transmissible form of cancer that usually kills the Devil within months of first being exposed. Scientists are hoping that genome testing and special breeding programs will be able to overcome the disease going forward. In 2017, a potential vaccine began being tested which has already shown some promise.

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Thinking Humanity: Tasmanian Devils Return To The Australian Mainland For The First Time In 3,000 Years
Tasmanian Devils Return To The Australian Mainland For The First Time In 3,000 Years
Conservationists and activists, including celebrities Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky, have celebrated after the Tasmanian Devil returned to the wild
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