The following article appeared in Goway Travels Globetrotting Magazine in Spring 2011
Help Save the Devil.
The iconic Tasmanian Devil is in trouble... BIG trouble. For a number of years now an incurable disease, peculiar only to Devils, is threatening them with extinction. There is now a serious race against time to find a cure and isolate enough in secure disease free areas where the species can rebuild their populaion.
Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD) is a contagious cancer that can be passed from Devil to Devil through biting. Once bitten, the Devil doesn't stand a chance and will die within 3 or 4 months. The disease was first identified in 1996 when there were about 250,000 Tasmania Devils in the wild. This number dropped to less than 50,000 in 2009.
Tasmanian Devil insurance populations have been established on the mainland. Devil Ark in New South Wales, part of the save the Tasmanian Devil Program, consists of a 350 hectare area with large "free range" pens for the animals. At least 500 healthy Devils are needed and they cost several thousand dollars a year to manage, and is going to be a long term project that could be 50 years.
One of the other threats to Devils is traffic, every year around 2000 Tasmanian Devils are killed on roads. These carnivorous marsupials use the streets as a common buffet table and since they move at night they are very difficult to see because of their dark fur.
Australia has already lost one of its marsupial carnivores - the Tasmanian Tiger. Its extinction is believed to be the result of land clearing, the introduction of dogs and bounties that were placed on the Tasmanian Tiger. The last Tiger died in 1936 at Hoarbrt Zoo.
The Tasmanian Devil has a notoriously cantankerous disposition. Early European settlers dubbed it a "devil" because of this, displaying their teeth and lunging and its array of spine chilling guttural growls. Travellers are warned not to leave their shoes out otherwise they will be devoured overnight.
photo courtesy of Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary
How You Can Help
The University of Tasmania manages a Save the Devil program which monitors the Devil Facial Tumor Disease and also accepts tax deductible donations from Australia and the US. This website is updated regularly and is the best resouce for those wishing to keep up to date with the Tassie Devil's plight.
If you are making a donation, whatever the amount, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org This September the staff of the Goway organization will be doing special promotions to draw attention and support for the Tasmanian Devil.
Just 20 minutes from Hobart is one of the best places to encouter devils. it is usually included in Goway's programs to Hobart. Bonorong has also launched Tasmania's first wildlife rescue program. The FOC Wildlife Program stands for Friends of Critters, Friends of Carers and also Free of Charge. If you have the time to extend your visit to Tasmania, you should consider becoming a participant.
Goway Travel in the early years, used the above image of the Tasmanian Devil to tempt travellers (note the apple) to visit Tasmania, Australia's stunning Island state. F.Y.I. a lot of Australian's believe most world maps are printed upside down.