Animals
 Australia
Project #10280

Help Save the Tasmanian Devil

by Conservation Volunteers Australia
Vetted

This year marks 20 years since the Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) was detected, affecting Tasmanian Devils in their natural habitat. DFTD is a fatal disease, and extremely unusual as it is a transmissible cancer that passes from devil to devil – the impact on wild populations of this species has been huge. Significant reductions in the population of a top predator like the devil has significant implications for the rest of the ecosystem too. Thankfully researchers and other passionate individuals and groups are working hard towards a solution for a healthy and reliable future for the Tasmanian Devil.

To help strengthen the devil population, Conservation Volunteers Australia and Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary have undertaken a partnership to protect and support the future of Tasmanian Devils through a breeding program for healthy devils.  This breeding program is showing success with our female devil, Nymeria, giving birth late last year to two babies, Luca and Kalina. Conservation Volunteers Australia’s Regional Manager in Hobart, Amy, reports “These babies have been doing so well and getting bigger by the day! The family have now been moved to a separate ‘family’ enclosure and are currently on display with their mum in Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. A highly successful breeding program, an important family - on display for people to witness.

Bonorong now has another female devil in that enclosure ready for the breeding season, and we look forward to keeping you up-to-date on their progress in the next report. A sincere thanks to all our donors who continue to support us in our fight to give the Tasmanian Devil a Wild Future.

 

*Photos courtesy of Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary
Baby Luca
Baby Luca
Devil enclosure at Bonorong
Devil enclosure at Bonorong
Nymeria and baby Kalina
Nymeria and baby Kalina
Tasmanian Devil
Tasmanian Devil

Although the Tasmanian Devil is still considered a highly vulnerable and threatened species, their future is looking more positive with scientific developments, successful breeding programs and release programs being undertaken across the country.

Over 100 healthy devils that were part of insurance populations have now been released across various locations in Tasmania. The Forestier Peninsula in the south east, Narawntapu National Park in the north and Stony Head in the north east have been the main release locations. Unfortunately a number of these devils were killed by cars on the peninsula; however, there have been differing results with these releases due to locations and traffic frequency etc. With the installation of the new virtual fences (as reported in our last update) we hope this number decreases over time. 

The Tasmanian government and all parties invested in the future of the Tasmanian Devil have also been advocating for safer roads, increased community awareness and mitigation methods to prevent these healthy devil species from becoming road kill.     

More recently scientists have been looking into developing a vaccine that will prevent the disease and can be administered to wild species.  The next step with this vaccine is to trial with around 60 devils over the next three years. 

Conservation Volunteers Australia participated in a number of activities to help protect this amazing species including building breeding and holding pens for the healthy devils, in partnership with Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. It is thanks to the generosity and support from Global Giving donations and our dedicated volunteers that have enabled us to make such a significant contribution to the survival of this species. Ms Bailey, Hobart Regional Manager of Conservation Volunteers Australia reports “we recently discovered a female devil in the breeding enclosure gave birth to a number of babies. This was the first birth for the breeding enclosures and considered a huge win! The mother, Nymeria is in good health as are the new baby devils.”

As the year comes to a close, we thank you again for your ongoing support and generosity. We hope you have a happy and safe holiday season.

Nymeria and her new baby devil
Nymeria and her new baby devil
Devil safe at home at Bonorong
Devil safe at home at Bonorong
Devil retirement village at Bonorong
Devil retirement village at Bonorong

Links:

Making an Enclosed Success
Making an Enclosed Success

 

Dear Friends in Tassie Devil Conservation,

The Tasmanian Devil is a unique species, it is currently the world's largest surviving carnivorous marsupial. Their piercing screams can be heard at night but they are rarely spotted, largely because they are nocturnal and somewhat elusive. This amazing species has been subjected to the Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) which has seen a dramatic drop in wild devil populations. Since the disease was discovered and identified in 1996 some areas around Tasmania have seen a 95% decrease in devil numbers. They are a scavenger by nature which sees them often exposed to traffic due to the attraction to road kill. This added threat for the devil has seen a number of fatalities in the healthy populations.

Attempts are being made to discourage devils from the road including installing virtual fencing. The fence sends a high pitched noise out to deter them when they cross the sensors. These have been installed on the Tasman Peninsula as a trial, in locations where there have been high numbers of devil road kills. This project is hoped to lower the number of road kill as well as becoming a method that can be implemented state wide. Community awareness campaigns around driving to the conditions and removing road kill from the road are also being promoted as methods of avoidance.

The other programs that have assisted with increasing healthy devil numbers have included captive breeding, isolation of healthy devils and relocation programs. Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) has been a part of a number of these programs thanks to the generosity and support from Global Giving donations. CVA have not only participated in the relocation and soft release programs, we were also able to build a large devil enclosure for aging healthy devils. This was a great way of allowing these healthy breeding populations to retire and relax into their old age.

By gaining future support through donations, CVA will be able to participate in virtual fencing programs across the state as well as relocation and soft release programs. This will see wide spread disease free devil populations return to Tasmania, while helping protect this unique national icon.   

Happy Devils retire in Style!
Happy Devils retire in Style!
Did someone say Relocate?
Did someone say Relocate?
Virtual Fence Example - Photo D McIntyre ABC News
Virtual Fence Example - Photo D McIntyre ABC News

Links:

Showing their Devilish Fierceness
Showing their Devilish Fierceness

Dear friends in Tasmanian Devil conservation,

The Tasmanian Devil is an iconic Australian species endemic to Tasmania that has faced morbidity and disease. Although various groups are doing all they can for the survival of the species, unfortunately, the threats Devils are faced with are not subsiding but rather, increasing. It’s not all bad news though… The attempt to understand the Devil Facial Tumour Disease is progressing with various vaccines being trialled.  There has been great success in increasing healthy populations through breeding programs, and providing healthy Devils with a place to call home, like Conservation Volunteers Australia’s ‘Saving the Elders’ program.  But, they aren’t out of the woods yet. 

Unfortunately a large percentage of Devils that have been released in both the Tarkine and Forestier Peninsula, have met with another deadly factor, cars. This has been heart breaking, considering the huge effort that has gone into breeding and ensuring healthy Devils for release. Of the ten juvenile Devils recently released on the Forestier Peninsular, two were run over; and in total from various releases, eleven have been killed.

So why is this happening? Devils head to the road to eat ‘road kill’ and this increases their chances of fatality. To prevent these deaths from happening, community awareness, signage and virtual fencing has been discussed and encouraged. Virtual fencing has already been installed in ‘road kill’ hotspots on the Forestier Peninsula. The virtual fence emits lights and alarm noises that scare animals away from the road when cars are approaching. Conservation Volunteers Australia is seeking funding to support a wider virtual fencing installation program, coupled with community awareness campaigns and monitoring to protect devils from the threat of road kill.

We are also seeking funding to continue to support the successful captive breeding and ‘soft release’ programs through constructing and deconstructing enclosures around the state. The portable enclosures are set up in the area of release, to allow Devils to adapt to their surroundings for two weeks prior to their release into the wild. Locations have been chosen based on suitability, genetics and previous population data. This program is vitally important for healthy Devil populations to reintegrate into the wild.  

Please help us ensure the Devils receive a fighting chance at a future in the Tasmanian wilderness, please take advantage of the special GlobalGiving Bonus Day on June 15 - where an amazing 50% of your kind donation (up to $1,000) will be matched.  So please consider supporting the next step in our program to save the iconic Tasmanian Devil and donate on June 15.  Please put a reminder in your phone or calendar today and share this story with your friends and work mates!

A Wild Devil with the deadly Tumour Disease
A Wild Devil with the deadly Tumour Disease
If only the Devil
If only the Devil's life was so simple
How can you resist our Devilish Charm? Donate Now
How can you resist our Devilish Charm? Donate Now

Links:

Volunteers repairing
Volunteers repairing 'boardwalk' at Bonorong

 

Dear Friends in Conservation,

Our Hobart office of Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) has been busy over the past few months assisting Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary to keep their Tasmanian Devil population free from the fatal Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD).  Our volunteers have been assisting in monitoring and repairing the perimeter fences, essential to ensuring that devils infected by the deadly disease, cannot enter the sanctuary and infect the healthy breeding population.

DFTD is now found in over 60% of Tasmanian Devils in their natural habitat in the wild, and has an astounding 100% mortality rate; so protecting “insurance” populations, such as the ones housed at Bonorong, from wild populations is crucial to their long term survival.

Volunteer teams had the long task of check every inch of both the internal enclosures and the external perimeter fences.  Regular checks of these fences are essential as the Tasmanian Devil is also a very muscly and robust animal, capable of causing damage to fences that may be weakened.  Our volunteers at the completion of these checks fell rightly satisfied, that the devils are safe and secure in their homes.

In addition to keeping the fences intact, teams of CVA volunteers have been assisting in ensuring visitors to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary have a positive and enjoyable experience, through upgrading walkways, building retaining walls, keeping enclosures clean and general weeding and tidiness of vegetated areas.   “Every Wednesday our volunteers and Team Leader come back with big smiles on their faces after spending the day at Bonorong, because they know that what they are doing out there is contributing to the protection of an iconic (and cute) Tassie icon”, said Renae Riviere, Tasmanian State Manager of Conservation Volunteers.

Conservation Volunteers Australia has had a proud and positive impact at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, thanks to the generous support of our GlobalGiving donors.  Your continued generous support will enable CVA volunteers to continue this vital work in ensuring the survival of the Tasmanian Devil and improve habitat for the current resident devil population.

The Tasmanian Devils at Bonorong and the Hobart CVA team send their thanks!   

A Happy Devil in its home at Bonorong
A Happy Devil in its home at Bonorong
Wild Devil with fatal Devil Facial Tumour Disease
Wild Devil with fatal Devil Facial Tumour Disease

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Conservation Volunteers Australia

Location: Mount Pleasant, Victoria - Australia
Website: http:/​/​www.conservationvolunteers.com.au
Project Leader:
Madeline Townsend
MOUNT HELEN, VICTORIA Australia

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