Over 3000 years ago, the Tasmanian Devil almost went extinct in the wild of Australia's mainland. However, numbers are now beginning to rise strongly.
Aussie Ark along with a coalition of other conservation groups revealed last year that they had released 26 of the carnivorous mammals into a 400-hectare (1,000-acre) sanctuary at Barrington Tops, just north of Sydney. Tim Faulkner who is the president of Aussie Ark has said the "historic" releases in July and September were the first steps in a project akin to the successful move to return wolves to the Yellowstone National Park in the US in the 1990’s.
The release of the 26 Tasmanian Devils has been based on 16 years of work. The Tasmanian breeding programme was vital for the survival of the species; and Aussie Ark are very pleased to have reached the goal of resurrecting these animals. For Tasmanian Devils not having been on the mainland for long; people are hopeful they will be able to adapt quickly to the unfamiliar environment and thrive in order to expand even more.
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The Tasmanian Devil is the world's largest carnivorous marsupial, reaching 30 inches in length and weighing up to 26 pounds. A Tasmanian Devil’s typical prey would be small animals including frogs, birds, fish and insects. Though more often they prefer scavenging than to hunting.
Tasmanian devils are solitary and nocturnal, spending their days alone in hollow logs, caves or burrows. They use their long whiskers and excellent sense of smell and sight to avoid predators and to locate prey.
Much like their cartoon counterpart, Tasmanian Devils have a very short temper. They have a reputation for flying into a rage when threatened by a predator, fighting for a mate or defending a meal. Tasmanian Devils got their name from early European settlers after witnessing displays such as teeth-baring, lunging, and an array of spine-chilling guttural growls.
It is estimated that there are fewer than 25,000 Tasmanian Devils still alive in the wild. One main reason why numbers have fallen so much is because of a facial tumor disease that struck the species in the mid 1990’s. These tumours interfere with feeding patterns of the devils and eventually cause them to die of starvation.
Devils are a vital animal to have for controlling other species of animal. This includes being a solution to controlling foxes. It is believed foxes in Australia are the cause for nearly all of the 40 mammal extinctions in Australia. Aussie Ark selected the reintroduced devils for their breeding suitability, placing them in the sprawling, fenced area in the hopes of warding off threats to their survival including feral pests, noxious weeds and cars.
The placement of young healthy Devils gives them the best part of six months to settle, find their territory and prepare for breeding which usually occurs in February. Another 40 are set to be released over the next two years into the sanctuary, which is on land bought by Aussie Ark for its habitat suitability, high number of herbivores and location near a national park.
Understanding the importance of ecosystems is vitally important to the survival of many species on our planet. It is great that it is featured so heavily in our education curriculum and there are personalities such as David Attenborough fighting for the survival of the environment as we know it. To help even more with your GCSE Biology exams check out our science tutors at Sherpa in order to get a rounded education about all necessary topics.
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