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Endangered Spiecies-Tasmainian Devil

In: Science

Submitted By siennaseven
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Pages 6

The unique Tasmanian devils were once abundant throughout Australia. They are now isolated in Tasmania only, hence their given name, the Tasmanian devil. Fossils found in Western Australia dated back to 2000 years but the precise explanation as to the disappearance of them inhabiting the mainland is suggested to be the introduction of the dingo. (National Geographic’s-Tasmanian Devil)

The small and vulnerable size of the Tasmanian devil perhaps predicts his habitat of forests and dens foliage giving him ample coverage and protection. During the day the devil is hidden away in dens, caves or hollow logs.



These creatures might only be the size of small dog (up to 75 centimetres) but they have a life saving feature and that’s their all mighty tenacious jaw. The devils huge head holds the most powerful, bone crushing jaws on earth. The force comes from an impressive upper body design of a head disproportionally larger than the rest of its torso. Their powerful mouth compensates for their vulnerable small body size. However, the structure of the devils legs shows them having long front legs but shorter rear legs giving them the ability to reach up to speeds of 25 kilometre an hour (Parks and Wildlife Service- Tasmanian devil- Frequently Asked Questions). Its course, thin, black fur along with its stocky build resembles ones of a baby bear and they often have a white strip under their chest.

The historical background of the Tasmanian devil devils evolution states that perhaps this marsupial evolved from a similar species found in South America during the time of Gowanda. (Devils@Cradle)


Tasmanian devils are strictly carnivorous, scavenging on small prey such as birds, snakes, fish, reptiles and insects and often eating communally on carrion. Snarling noises and threatening physical displays assert dominance in a pack during communal feast on carcasses. ‘They have muscular jaws that works like a snapping sling’-National Geographic. Outstandingly enough these small creatures have the most powerful bite force than any other living mammal on Earth. This makes it easily capable of ripping through flesh and even crushing bones, enabling them to completely devour their prey at once.

When well fed, a devil’s ruler sized tail will swell with stored fat, like other marsupials. They use their long whiskers to locate their prey when scavenging in the darkness of the forest. These famously feisty mammals will travel up to 16 kilometers a night in search for food.

The iconic Tasmanian devil is active from dusk and throughout the night, spending their time awake roaming distances up to 16 kilometres, bellowing blood curdling screams in search of dead and dying prey. Although devils often tend to be solitary they usually have overlapping home ranges with others. Communal eating can often become very noisy with the devil growling and screeching for territorial rights over carcasses.

Tasmanian devils play a vital economic role in natures auditors by removing diseased and dead wildlife from the land. When agitated the feisty devil will produce a strong odor worse than a skunk and their ears often go bright red from a rush of blood.


Tasmanian devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD)
The Tasmanian devil is faced with a catastrophic illness discovered first in 1996, killing more than tens of thousands of devils since then. Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) is a rapidly spreading infectious cancer, transmitted through biting, which is natural behaviour when feeding and mating. This unheard of, contagious cancer causes large lumps forming around the animal’s mouth and head, interfering with feeding leading to emaciation or starvation. They quickly become weaker, making it difficult to compete with other devils for food. Within three to five months, affected animals will die from starvation or body functions failure. A treatment or cure has not yet been found due to the rapid transition through devils and lack of research and resources available. In May 2009, the vulnerable Tasmanian devil was listed as endangered. Although there are still thousands of devils left in the wild, this species has suffered a dramatic population decline with more than 80% dead from DFTD since 1996. It’s believed that in next 25-30 years all devils could face extinction leaving a possibility for the next generation never witnessing the great Tasmanian devil.

Devil Island Project and Save the Tasmanian Devil Program are two major organisations who strive to save the devil from extinction.
The Devil Island Project has created a free range enclosure allowing healthy devils to roam wild in their ‘Devil Islands”. This keeps out infected devils and provides healthy breeding for the chances of this species survival. However the long-term goal for the Devil Island Project is to create ‘The Great Devil Walls of Tasmania’. There are approximately 600 healthy Tasmanian devils living in the northwest of Tasmania leaving a short window of opportunity to section off the untouched DFTD area. This organisation needs to raise funds for the 34 kilometres barrier to block off unhealthy devils.

The Save the Tasmanian Devil Program is funded by the Australian and Tasmanian Governments. They have four main focuses for the survival of the devil.
Population monitoring- data collection for numbers in disease distribution to help determine conservation strategies.
Disease diagnostics- money donated goes towards research of defining the disease, investigating how a cancer can become contagious and possible treatments.
Wild management- working with the Devil Island Project to create methods in containing the disease.
Insurance population- to maintain a healthy number of Tasmanian devil to keep in captivity and breed genetically healthy devils for the next generation. Ultimately reintroducing them to the wild.


WWF is one of the worlds largest organisations for raising money and awareness for endangered species and destroyed environments. WWF relies on donations in support for global conservation efforts. They offer adoptions for specific species. Contributions towards the Tasmanian devil include species adoptions, which comes with a gift pack of a plush devil toy, an adoption certificate, a photo of your individual devil and a brightly coloured gift bag. All money raised goes towards research in finding a cure for this tragic cancer, striking thousands of devils.

In 2009 WWF created a project called, ‘Extinction Sucks’ which brings awareness of the up hill battle of endangered species with weekly programming for web audiences. Aussie girls Aleisha and Ashleigh embarked on a dramatic adventure to educate people about the critically endangered Tasmanian devil and raise money for them at the same time. These two girls held a fun and unique fundraiser for the Tasmanian devil called ‘Handsome Devil’ which is five hunky guys selling kisses and cakes at a nightclubs. Not only does this bring international awareness but, all the money raised go towards motion-activated cameras that are donated to the conservationists working with the remaining Tasmanian devil populations. The cameras mean scientists can observe these unique creatures and better understand how the disease is spread. 


1. To prevent a strain of resources an alternative can to be to travel in off-peak periods of the year. 2. Dispose of all litter. This can destroy an environment and can be hazarded to wild animals. 3. Don’t disturb wildlife or the natural grounds. 4. Leave natural treasure where they’re found e.g. coral 5. Boats and jet skies can create pollution and damage the natural habitat of the ocean. Minimize use when possible.


Devils@cradle WWF Adoption Center Australian Museum-Tasmanian Devil Parks & Wildlife Service-Tasmania-Tasmanian devil Adelaide Zoo-Tasmanian Devil WWF- Tasmanian Devil WWF-Tasmanian devil needs help Adelaide and Monarto Zoo- Conservation Support-Tasmanian devil Devil Island Project Save the Tasmanian Devil-DFTD Devil Park National Geographics- Magazine

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