Tassie devil joeys born on mainland Australia a big win for rewilding program

By Candice Marshall 10 June 2022
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Tasmanian devil joeys have successfully bred in a ‘wild scenario’ at Barrington Tops in New South Wales for the second year in a row.

When rangers at Aussie Ark’s Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary carried out routine checks of their Tasmanian devils this week, they were elated to find nine joeys in the pouches of their female devils. 

“It’s thrilling to see the joeys in the pouch at this really crucial stage. Seeing them at this size leaves me speechless every single time,” says Aussie Ark supervisor, Tyler Gralton. 

“It’s such an amazing start to the breeding season,” adds Aussie Ark curator, Kelly Davis.

“Nothing beats peeking into the mother’s pouch and seeing that tiny pink joey. It’s even more special out here in the Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary, where we know they are living completely wild – without human intervention.”

Tyler, Kelly, and the team will continue pouch checks over the coming weeks, expecting to find more than 19 joeys in total – a major win for the organisation’s DevilComeback campaign – a plan to rewild Australia with the endangered species. 

Joeys in the pouches of Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) at Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary, New South Wales.
Video credit: Aussie Ark

The DevilComeback campaign began in 2020 when 28 Tasmanian devils were released into the Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary – a protected fenced area, free from feral predators, where the devils live unassisted, essentially as they would in the wild.

This year’s success follows last year’s massive achievement when Tasmanian devils were bred in a wild scenario on mainland Australia for the first time in 3,000 years.

“To have a second year to back that up just shows that this is a great environment for them and they really are thriving” says Kelly.

Aussie Ark also operates the most successful captive breeding facility for the Tasmanian devil on mainland Australia.

At its founding in 2011, the program started with 44 individuals and is now home to more than 200 – about 50 per cent of the entire mainland Tasmanian devil insurance population.

Related: Tasmanian devils: four things you may not know