in an epic homecoming, the #DevilComeback is a historic effort to return the iconic Tasmanian Devil to mainland Australia for the first time in 3,000 years through the collaborative work of Aussie Ark, Global Wildlife Conservation and Wild Ark.
Aussie Ark has worked tirelessly over the past decade to build an insurance population of the endangered species. To date, more than 390 devils have been born and raised at Aussie Ark in a way that fosters natural behavior in the animals, preparing them for release into the wild. This year, 26 Tasmanian Devils were released into a 400-hectare wild sanctuary. In the next two years, Aussie Ark plans two additional releases of 20 devils each. If all goes as planned, the animals will breed and produce joeys, eventually resulting in a self-sustaining wild population.
Not only does the reintroduction bode well for the recovery of the Tasmanian Devil, but as native apex predators and the world’s largest carnivorous marsupials, they help control feral cats and foxes that threaten other endangered and endemic species. As scavengers, they help keep their home clean and free of disease.
Tasmanian Devils vanished entirely from mainland Australia in large part because they were outcompeted by introduced Dingoes, which hunt in packs. The devils survived only on the island of Tasmania, where the Dingoes never reached. Across the island state, a transmissible, painful and fatal disease called Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD) — the only known contagious cancer—decimated up to 90 percent of the wild population of Tasmanian Devils. Just 25,000 devils are left in the wild of Tasmania today.