28 Nov DEVIL ARK
High in the hills of the Barrington Tops, Devil Ark is a critical project working to save the endangered Australian Tasmanian devil. It is the largest conservation breeding program for the Tasmanian devil on mainland Australia. The iconic Tasmanian marsupial is at serious risk of extinction from the highly contagious devil facial tumour disease (DFTD).
Devil Ark’s ambitious breeding program might be the key to its survival. Located at an altitude of 1,350 metres in the Barrington Tops, Devil Ark provides the perfect breeding environment for devils. The Tasmanian-like vegetation and cool, wet and snowy conditions mean that the devils are feeling right at home!
Devil Ark is a conservation project with real outcomes. It is a cost-effective and efficient conservation model for species recovery to create an insurance population to mitigate against possible extinction of the Tasmanian devil in the wild. Australia is ranked as having the worst mammalian extinction in the world and we cannot let further extinctions take place. One of the most infamous extinctions is the loss of the enigmatic Thylacine or Tasmanian tiger due to hunting. The Tasmanian devil is its closest living relative and it is all of our responsibility to ensure that this iconic native species remains alive and well and continues to play a key ecological role in the ecosystem.
Devil Ark was founded in 2011 with just 44 Tasmanian devils. Since then, we’ve had 7 successful breeding seasons with over 300 healthy joeys born. Our devils are paired for breeding to maximize genetic diversity and the natural conditions at Devil Ark preserve the devil’s normal wild-type behaviours resulting in natural and successful breeding. We believe in our efforts to ensure the survival of the Tasmanian devil. We have to weather the storm that is DFTD and repopulate Tasmania with a healthy population to combat the possible threat of extinction when the time is right.
Devil Ark’s enclosures are large (between 1-3 hectares each) and naturalistic wild areas with native vegetation and surrounds. Each enclosure contains a small group of devils that behave as they would in the wild. With limited human exposure, devils retain their wild behavioural traits, maintaining their independence and relying on their own natural instincts to prepare them for eventual release back in the wild in Tasmania and mainland Australia.
The latest information from the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program annual monitoring program shows the distribution of Devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) having traversed the entire island. There is no evidence to date of the decline in devils stopping or the prevalence of the disease decreasing. With continuing disease impact on the species and additional threats of car strike and dog attacks having significant impacts on persisting Devil populations, it appears that Devil Ark is more needed than ever.
Meanwhile, Devil Ark continues to strive for a larger population with an increasing focus on suitability for release back to the wild when the time is right. Following another successful year, Devil Ark has produced a beautiful 69 joeys during the 2019-2020 breeding season. Those joeys will form the next generation of the species, leading their species away from extinction.
Joeys will naturally wean from their mothers in November, at which time they will be caught by Devil Ark keepers and placed with other devils equal to their own size and age to learn important social skills. It is an extremely busy time of year at the Ark, with over 130 Tasmanian devils being caught for health checks, preventative health care treatments, and creation of new breeding configurations prior to the next breeding season.
While Devil Ark remains the most cost-effective solution to managing Tasmanian devils in captivity at approximately $2,200 per year per devil compared to the industry average of $10,000 per annum per devil, it is still an expensive project.
You can help support Devil Ark and share the journey of saving one of Australia’s most unique, loved and iconic species by donating today.
- $10 can buy a microchip to identify each Tasmanian devil
- $60 provides a months food for a Tasmanian devil
- $200 builds a Tasmanian devil’s home
- $500 secures essential monitoring to ensure our devils are in optimum health
- $2000 supports a devil for its entire life