Rewilding Australia has reinforced its commitment to reintroducing the Tasmanian devil to mainland Australia.
Why? Because this unique Australian carnivorous marsupial is too important to lose, and we feel that all strategies that may benefit the long-term survival of this species must be tested.
Below is an article from 1930. We’ve written our own article on the Tasmanian devil and juxtaposed them. We’ve replaced a single word – ‘tiger’, with ‘devil’ to demonstrate the similarity in attitude towards saving these species as well as to highlight the inertia in properly addressing the declines of both of these species.
In the early 1900s there were many opportunities given to the Tasmanian Government to save the Tasmanian tiger. Obfuscation and roadblocks from the then Government dashed any hopes for intervention and in 1936 the last ever thylacine would die of exposure after being locked out of its shelter at the Hobart Zoo. In 1954, former Healesville Sanctuary director David Fleay reflected on the lack of timeliness in securing the thylacine.“It boils down to the fact that for the marsupial wolf, the sands of time have practically run out. Only a philanthropist really interested in our much-vaunted fauna can stay the remaining grains”.
The eventual outcome of the Tasmanian devil Facial Tumour Disease may be to reduce the population of wild devils to such a low number that the devil becomes functionally extinct in the wild. The remaining population would then become more susceptible to stochastic events in the environment (everything from drought, bushfire, road kill and persecution, as well as other diseases more likely to impact a small, genetically similar population).
Suitable habitat on mainland Australia just may provide the safe haven from disease to prevent such a fate. There may also be additional ecosystem benefits for mainland ecosystems that have been lost in the 500-plus years the devil has been absent.
We urge the current Tasmanian Government to honour the legacy learn from the lessons of history. To work constructively with the Federal Government and mainland State Governments and environment agencies to determine the best methodology for a trialing a reintroduction of the Tasmanian devil.