Help Save the Tasmanian Devil

 
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Volunteers securing steel droppers on the fence
Volunteers securing steel droppers on the fence

The ‘Taking Care of the Elders’ Program is in the final construction stages and we are now approaching completion of the enclosure. This large ‘retirement village’ is now taking shape and will be ready for its Tasmanian Devil residents soon!

The fencing posts and rail have now been installed and secured to ensure stability. Recycled corrugated iron sheets are being used to form the fences. This roofing iron has been assembled and cut to size; however we will need more iron to fully complete the enclosure. The 24 devil dens are also complete and ready to accommodate the ageing carnivorous marsupials.

Thanks to recent donations, Conservation Volunteers has been able to purchase the essential, but most expensive, materials we needed for the project, these being wire netting and steel mesh. They have now been laid on almost all of the perimeter fence and internal walls of the enclosure; this will ensure no digging devil escapees (nobody can get out - nobody can get in! The Devils are safe from predators).  

"Together, the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary and Conservation Volunteers Australia have enjoyed a very cohesive working relationship over past years, which has culminated in a number of successful on-ground projects being undertaken and completed. Our latest project, 'Taking Care of The Elders' has provided inspiration and the opportunity for the community to become involved in the wellbeing and future of the Tasmanian Devil”, says Conservation Volunteers’ Regional Coordinator, Amy Bailey.

One of the major reasons for the project’s ongoing success is that the focus of the project has captured the imagination and people, no matter what their skill level, can make a practical contribution towards a really important wildlife issue - with none bearing dearer than the Tasmanian Devil. Volunteers have really embraced the idea of constructing a large ‘Retirement Village’ to humanely house older members of the Tasmanian Devil insurance population - those that are no longer required for breeding purposes, but still need a safe place to live out their lives.  

According to Amy, “Volunteering in Wildlife Sanctuaries does provide a unique experience. When projects such as this are created, with real outcomes, with real purpose, there are many people from all walks of life, who wish to share the commitment and responsibility for the preservation of our wildlife into the future and beyond." 

Progress is good and the volunteers have made massive contributions of time and effort to get to this stage, but financial assistance is still urgently required to complete the enclosure. We still need to buy materials include roofing iron for the perimeter fence, several thousand roofing screws, and truck loads of mulch to provide a comfortable and low maintenance ground cover for the ‘retirement village’.  Our volunteers are ready and committed to help with installation as soon as we can buy what we need.

Thank you for donating so far to help with this really unusual and much-needed project – we hope that you enjoy our update and the pictures of the volunteers using the materials that you have helped supply. Soon we’ll be sharing our next update, and we hope to be able to show you the Devils being transferred into their Retirement Village if we can make enough progress with funds to complete the project! Thank you again for your contribution to conservation.

Cutting the recycled iron to size
Cutting the recycled iron to size
It
It's tight security to protect the Devils!
The roofing iron is secured in place
The roofing iron is secured in place
Special thanks to the volunteers!
Special thanks to the volunteers!
Devils volunteer team
Devils volunteer team

It’s been a busy start to the year for the Taking Care of the Elders program. We’ve received some very generous donations over the last few months, which have enabled us to purchase much needed materials for the construction of this large ‘retirement village’ for the Tasmanian Devils. A significant amount of timber rail has been purchased and installed along the perimeter fence. These activities have resulted in a noteworthy 220 square metres out of the 660 square metre perimeter fence now complete. We’re getting there, with your support!

The volunteers assisting with the construction are excited by their progress. Conservation Volunteers Australia Team Leader, Geoff Brown, commented: “The Bonorong project is great for many reasons! It’s a chance for volunteers from all sorts of backgrounds to directly help with the long term survival of the world’s largest marsupial carnivore. Along the way, volunteers learn practical conservation skills and have the chance to be a part of a community project. It is also a chance for many of them (including Tasmanians) to see Australian animals - like the Devils - that they may have never seen before.” 

This great program will see many older devils live out their final days in a comfortable, disease free habitat – a great way to reward these animals for their contribution towards the continued future of their unique species. All involved within the program are looking forward to seeing the benefits of their hard work when the Devils can be released into the enclosure.

To complete this Devil ‘retirement village’, the program still requires further financial assistance. Conservation Volunteers Australia is seeking support for the acquisition of additional materials, including mulch to lay within the enclosure and mesh netting and pickets for the perimeter fence to keep the Devils safe. Donations can be made in set amounts for fencing materials or you can pledge your own amount and know that you are furthering the survival of this iconic species.

Our heartfelt thanks to those that have supported and donated to our Tasmanian Devil project so far. Your contribution ensures these important conservation efforts continue and that the Tasmanian Devil will have a Wild Future!

Fence construction underway
Fence construction underway
Measure twice, cut once!
Measure twice, cut once!
Fence is coming together!
Fence is coming together!

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Making sure the posts are level for the devils
Making sure the posts are level for the devils

There’s been lots of action since the last report on our Taking Care of the Elders project, and fencing remains our main priority to establish the boundary of the 660 square metre Tasmanian Devil enclosure.

Our volunteers have been busy building the free-range enclosure with 80 logs now in place for the perimeter wall. When finished this will be a safe and secure place for the Tasmanian Devils that are retiring from the breeding program at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary (pronounced “Bon-a-rong” – Aboriginal meaning “Native Companion”) was established in 1981 as a sanctuary for injured and orphaned wildlife and is Tasmania’s most popular wildlife park. 25 Devil dens have also been built and installed, with two types of dens designed for this enclosure – one is made from timber, and the other made from fruit juice drums.

We’ve had many volunteers from across Australia and around the world join our teams and all involved have enjoyed the chance to help the aging Devil population ease into a restful retirement. They have found this a worthy and enjoyable program to be a part of and all look forward to the completion of this retirement village for the Tasmanian Devil. Steve Bailey, Conservation Volunteers Australia’s State Manager in Tasmania, commented that the volunteers have done a great job so far: “Volunteers give their time and efforts freely to help with the on-ground works. The Devil enclosure has gained a significant amount of materials now; but more building materials are still needed for upcoming works to be completed – we have many more volunteers who are ready and willing to help!”

Your valuable donation will assist in acquiring these vital materials needed to complete this project.  Donations can be made in set amounts for fencing materials, plants and tools – or pledge your own amount and know that you are furthering the survival of this remarkable species.

Our sincere thanks to those that have supported and donated to our Tasmanian Devil project so far. Your contribution ensures these important conservation efforts continue and that the Tasmanian Devil will have a Wild Future!

The Devil dens in place
The Devil dens in place
Volunteers securing the perimeter fence posts
Volunteers securing the perimeter fence posts

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Getting the all-important fence in place
Getting the all-important fence in place

Works have started on our Taking Care of the Elders project, to build large, free-range enclosures for Tasmanian Devils that are retiring from the breeding program at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary.  After successful years of breeding and contributing to the ongoing success of increasing insurance populations, these hardworking Devils are now ready for a well-earned rest!

Many of these Devils were originally from the wild, brought in to help increase population numbers of healthy Devils.  Unable to return to the wild due to risk of exposure to the disease, these large enclosures will ensure they are free to roam, stretch their legs and live in safety and comfort for the rest of their days.

Conservation Volunteers Australia has been busy with initial construction of the 660sq metre enclosure, which will include native habitat, isolation and segregation areas, common sniffing platforms, digging mounds and sleeping facilities.  The enclosure will house up to 25 Devils at a time.  Volunteers have recently braved the cool winter Tassie conditions to start construction, but more building materials are needed for upcoming works to be completed. 

Fencing is our main priority at the moment to establish the boundary of the enclosure and ensure the Devils are safe and sound.  Your valuable donation will assist in procuring vital materials needed to complete this project.  You can choose what you would like to support through set amounts for fencing materials, plants and tools – or pledge your own amount and know that you are contributing to the survival of this wonderful, iconic species.

A huge thank you to those that have supported our Tasmanian Devil project so far – your contribution will ensure that these important conservation efforts continue and that the Tasmanian Devil will have a Wild Future!

Volunteers hard at work in chilly Tasmania
Volunteers hard at work in chilly Tasmania
The enclosure will enable older Devils to relax
The enclosure will enable older Devils to relax

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Smell is an important form of communication
Smell is an important form of communication

Our Taking Care of the Elders enclosure project is underway.  Planning is currently being held to ensure that the enclosures are the best construction and design to cater to the needs of the ageing Tasmanian Devils, so that they can enjoy their ‘retirement’ from the breeding program and live out their days in comfort, contentment and safety.

DID YOU KNOW - The Tasmanian Devil has a very keen sense of smell.  The olfactory bulb – the part of brain that is used to detect and interpret smells is enormous in the Tassie Devil’s brain and gives a good indication of the importance of smell for survival.  In the wild, these animals use their sense of smell to communicate, find food, find mates and establish territory.   In fact, the Tassie Devil’s nose is so sensitive they can detect scents up to 1km (0.6 mi) away!

When in captivity, an important part of Tasmanian Devil husbandry is providing these animals with good mental stimulation, enabling them to hone their keen sense of smell and prevent boredom.  Thinking up novel ways of keeping Devils entertained keeps the wildlife keepers busy!  To challenge and support their keen sense of smell, ‘bloodcicles’ are sometimes put in the enclosure (blocks of frozen blood), enabling this carnivorous marsupial keep busy by sniffing it out, similar to finding carrion in the wild – gory but great for Devils!  Food and other native animal faeces are scattered through the enclosure to make the enclosure a dynamic enclosure full of scents that they would encounter in the wild.

Our new enclosures will have ‘smelling platforms’, where the Devils can climb up (another favourite activity) and sniff around.   This is all just part of the important process of ensuring that Tasmanian Devils in captivity are mentally, emotionally and physically healthy! 

With plans being finalised on creating these fantastic, dynamic enclosures, our attention now turns to procuring the building materials so that we can start the building process!  We need to raise funds to buy these materials and hope that you can help us.

You can choose what you would like to support through set amounts for fencing materials, plants and tools – or pledge your own amount and know that you are contributing to the survival of this wonderful, iconic species.

A huge thank you to those that have supported our Tasmanian Devil project so far – your contribution will ensure that these important conservation efforts continue and that the Tasmanian Devil will have a Wild Future!

Hope for the future for this young devil
Hope for the future for this young devil
Devils like to get up high for a look and a sniff
Devils like to get up high for a look and a sniff

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Organization

Project Leader

Madeline Townsend

MOUNT HELEN, VICTORIA Australia

Where is this project located?

Map of Help Save the Tasmanian Devil