Ecologists believe that the decreasing devil population has a highly detrimental impact on the environment as well as agricultural industries.

Status of Tasmanian devils in the wild

The unfolding demise of the Tasmanian devil has exceeded ‘normal’ worst-case epidemics and continues to do so.
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The dirt on DFTD

DFTD is one of the only cancers known to spread as a contagious disease. The cancer is spread from devil to devil primarily through biting.
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Possibility of disease resistance
in the northwest

Despite media portrayal of scientific 'breakthroughs', long-term survival will still rely upon the preservation of genetically varied devils from as wide a geographic range as possible.
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The crucial role of captive breeding

The aim of the 'insurance population’ is to establish and maintain healthy, genetically diverse Tasmanian devils for successful release into the wild when required.
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The devil's in the details:
more about Devil Ark

Since the development of the Devil Ark concept, the Australian Reptile Park has been busy working with a range of partners to create this ambitious breeding program.
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More about Devil Ark founders and partners

Devil Ark is being developed by the Australian Reptile Park in partnership with the Foundation for Australia's Most Endangered Species.
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One of the biggest threats posed as a result of the decline in devil numbers is from introduced invasive species, including dogs and cats. This is due to the large amounts of surplus carrion in the landscape, estimated to be as much as 100 tonnes a day, giving feral carnivores a ready food source to which they are responding greedily.

An even greater threat

Until now Tasmania has enjoyed having a remarkably diverse and plentiful fauna. Although it is disappointing to see so much road-kill on Tasmanian roads, this high mortality reflects an incredible wildlife density that includes a number of species that were once a feature of the mainland fauna before disappearing in the wake of arriving foxes, dogs and cats. Although feral cats and dogs are already present in Tasmania, they have never really established themselves as the pests that they are on the mainland.

It is believed that this relative scarcity of large feral predators was, until now, facilitated by the presence of Tasmanian devils, which have adequately competed against the newcomers to maintain a key ecological niche. With the disappearance of devils, the cats in particular have rallied to fill the void. An explosion in the number of feral cats and dogs would be bad enough – but the most significant threat of all is coming from the expanding fox population.

It is widely agreed that if foxes do explode to mainland population levels, an enormous loss of native biomass will occur, with numerous extinctions following the mainland pattern. In effect the loss of the devil may prove to be only the tip of the iceberg.

Find out how we're preserving genetic variation in the Tasmanian devil
Did you know? The annual cost to the Tasmanian economy directly attributable to damage caused to the environment and primary industry by an exploding fox population is estimated at up to $20 million.
At rsik: eastern quoll At risk:eastern barred bandicoot At risk:little pygmy possum At risk:long-nosed potoroo At risk:spotted-tail quoll At risk: Tasmanian bettong Feral dog Feral cat European fox