Breeding program ups the ante to save devils

By AG Staff Writer 25 July 2016
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Devil Ark plans to double its Tassie devil insurance population by 2020 to save the species from extinction.

THIS MONTH MARKS 20 years since Australia’s Tasmanian devil was diagnosed with Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) – today, almost the entire state of Tasmania is infected, with 90 per cent of devils wiped out.

Faced with this dire outlook for the iconic species, Devil Ark – the only mainland conservation breeding program, based in Barrington Tops, NSW – has committed to doubling its insurance population of healthy devils from 180 to 360 by the year 2020.

“The Tasmanian Devil is facing extinction with no cure for DFTD,” said Tim Faulkner, General Manager of Devil Ark and 2015 AG Conservationist of the Year.

Tasmanian devil

Tassie devils risk extinction without a cure for Devil Facial Tumour Disease. (Image: courtesy Devil Ark)

“More recently a second strain of the disease has been discovered, demonstrating that there is a real risk that this iconic species will be lost forever,” Tim added.

Devil Ark currently holds 52 per cent of the mainland insurance population, and aims to repopulate Tasmania once the deadly disease has run its course. There is currently no known cure of vaccine for DFTD.

“Doubling the Ark will guarantee Australia doesn’t see another iconic species become extinct, we have already lost the Tasmanian Tiger and if we don’t act now the Tasmanian devil could be gone forever,” said Tim.

Tasmanian devil

Devil Ark is the only mainland breeding conservation program for Tasmanian devils. (Image: Gary Brown)

“Australia has the worst mammal extinction rate on earth and as the top order predator, the devil is critical in maintaining balance within the ecosystem.”

The not-for-profit organisation is seeking to raise $1.5 million in funds to cover the expansion costs associated with doubling the insurance population of Tassie devils.

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