World News – US – «  Like Wolves in Yellowstone  »: Tasmanian devils freed on mainland Australia


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October 5, 2020

by Holly Robertson

Tasmanian devils were released into the wild on mainland Australia 3,000 years after the fiery marsupials went extinct there, in what environmentalists described on Monday as a « historic » milestone

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Aussie Ark, along with a coalition of other conservation groups, revealed Monday they had released 26 of the carnivorous mammals at a 400-hectare (1,000-acre) sanctuary in Barrington Tops, about 35 hours north of Sydney

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Tim Faulkner, chairman of Aussie Ark, said the « historic » outings in July and September were the first steps in a project similar to the successful decision to return the wolves to Yellowstone National Park in the United States. United in the 1990s

After 16 years of work, including setting up the largest Tasmanian devil breeding program in mainland Australia, Faulkner said it was « amazing and surreal » to have achieved the goal

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« Our biggest native predator on the continent is the quoll tiger – and it measures just over a kilo – so to bring back something of this enormity is huge »

Tasmanian devils, which weigh up to 8 kilograms (18 pounds) and have black or brown coats, typically feed on other native animals or scavenge carcasses

According to government environmental authorities, demons are not dangerous to humans or livestock, but will defend themselves if attacked and can cause serious injury

The animals – known for their extremely loud growls, powerful jaws, and fierceness when facing rivals for food or companions – are classified as endangered after contagious disease from a tumor facial devastation has ravaged the remaining population of the Australian island state of Tasmania

Fewer than 25,000 Tasmanian devils are estimated to still live in the wild, up from 150,000 before the mysterious deadly disease first struck in the mid-1990s

On the Australian mainland, they were said to have been wiped out by packs of dingoes – wild dogs native to the vast continent – around 3,000 years ago

Faulkner said he hopes the project will create an « insurance population » against the facial tumor disease, which has so far proven incurable, and help restore the original environment

« Demons present one of the only natural solutions to controlling fox and cat, and fox and cat are responsible for nearly all of our 40 mammal extinctions (in Australia), » said he added

Aussie Ark selected the reintroduced demons for their breeding ability, placing them in the large fenced area in hopes of warding off threats to their survival including wild pests, noxious weeds, and cars.

« We put healthy young devils, we put them now, which gives them the best of six months to settle down, find their territory (and) prepare for breeding », which usually has takes place in February, said Faulkner

Forty more are expected to be released over the next two years at the sanctuary, which sits on land purchased by Aussie Ark for its suitable habitat, high herbivore numbers, and location near a national park

He said he’s convinced that close watch as Tasmanian devils make the « massive transition » back to nature – where they have no food, water or shelter for the first time in their life. life – would ensure the rapid success of the program

As part of the « ambitious » reforestation program, Aussie Ark plans to eventually introduce more animals into unfenced areas, where they will face a greater number of new threats, including infamous fires country bush

The Tasmanian Devil is one of seven species essential to the Australian ecosystem that Aussie Ark plans to reintroduce to the wilderness sanctuary in the years to come, along with quolls, bandicoots and rock wallabies

© 2020 AFP

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Tasmanian Devil, Tasmania, Continental Australia, Chris Hemsworth, Marsupials

World News – United States – « Like Wolves in Yellowstone »: Tasmanian demons freed on the Australian continent


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