The endangered marsupial has been ravaged by disease, but scientists stumbled upon a new healthy population that gives them hope.
Scientists who were looking for healthy Tasmanian devils were amazed to find a new group living in Australia, a huge find that is incredibly good news for the endangered species. Scientists on a conservation expedition in southwest Tasmanian stumbled across the group after the spen teight days exploring the wilderness looking for devils.
Scientists say that more than 80 percent of devils on the island of Tasmanian have been killed by the disease, and the species is struggling to hang on. A facial cancer is being spread from devil to devil when they fight or mate, and researchers have struggled to stop it. So they decided to go on a quest to find devils that were not suffering from the disease.
They found a new population in the southwest coast that is small but healthy, and were able to trap 14 individual devils that were in good condition. Researchers say this is a significant find that will give the species a fighting chance to survive and thrive.
“The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is a carnivorous marsupial of the family Dasyuridae. It was once native to mainland Australia and is now found in the wild only on the island state of Tasmania, including tiny east-coast Maria Island where there is a conservation project with disease-free animals,” according to a Wikipedia excerpt. “The size of a small dog, the Tasmanian devil became the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world following the extinction of the thylacine in 1936. It is related to quolls and distantly related to the thylacine. It is characterised by its stocky and muscular build, black fur, pungent odour, extremely loud and disturbing screech, keen sense of smell, and ferocity when feeding. The Tasmanian devil’s large head and neck allow it to generate among the strongest bites per unit body mass of any extant mammal land predator, and it hunts prey and scavenges carrion as well as eating household products if humans are living nearby.”