SAVING THE TASSIE DEVIL
The Tasmanian devil is a deeply misunderstood animal, for which we have a soft spot the size of Tassie itself. These shy, highly adapted animals are currently declining at a terrifying rate because of a strange facial cancer which is afflicting devils across the state.
The Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease (DFTD):
- Appeared in the early 1990s
- Is a very unusual cancer because it spreads through contact (and devils often squabble, meaning lots of facial contact)
- Kills around 97% of devil in affected areas
- Has now spread across most of the state (with the exception of the west coast and Tarkine wilderness area)
The Tasmanian devil is now on the endangered species list, even though it was common and stable just two decades ago. We are very, very worried about this special animal. For more information on the disease and the devil, you can visit the Save the Tasmanian Devil Programme website.
At Bonorong, all of our keepers develop long lasting bonds with the individual devils we care for. Just like people, they can be grumpy, comical, sooky or incredibly sweet depending on their mood. We are absolutely committed to the continuing survival of the devil.
The Insurance Population
One of the ways to look after a species suffering from a contagious disease is to quarantine a small section of the population. Then, if the worst happens and the animal becomes extinct it can be reintroduced. This approach is a last resort, but with devil numbers continuing to plummet and no cure on the horizon, we need to make sure there is a healthy sustainable population managed in zoos and wildlife parks across Australia.
Bonorong plays an important role in providing homes for older devils who have lived in government breeding facilities and can no longer breed. Our massive “Devils Run” enclosure is a retirement village for these heroic animals who have helped to produce another generation of healthy, safe devils.
The Tarkine Devil Project
Bonorong and our sister business Tarkine Trails operate walking tours in the remote and wonderful Tarkine forests, which also happen to house one of the last disease free populations of devils. We operate motion-sensitive cameras throughout the rainforests and coastlines of the Tarkine in order to monitor hitherto unknown and increasingly precious devil populations. Our guests can participate in the collection and viewing of the camera data – getting a rare insight into the secret behaviour of the Tarkine wildlife. Bonorong and Tarkine Trails fund the ongoing costs of this project (after an initial grant from the government). All data is collated and sent to the devil research teams at the Tasmanian Government and the University of Tasmania.