PLZ, Save Tasmanian Devils Like Saving Panda!

Tasmanian Devil one of the unique animals in Australia

There are many species of animals are facing extinct, however, some of them are not as popular as panda, Tasmanian Devils are one of the animals in danger. “The name of Devils is confusing that people may have heard of it, but some people don’t really understand what the animal actually looks like” Said by Katherine Farquharson, a PhD candidate of Faculty of Veterinary of Science at the University of Sydney.

About Tasmanian Devil

Tasmanian Devils is the only animals of the family Dasyuridae, which facing the situation of being extinct. Several reasons worsen the situation of Devils, including the Devil Facial Tumour Disease, an infectious tumour disease among Devils, and human effects. Because of the interest and passion of animals, Katherine chose her bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience. “I think as an Australian species,” Katherine said, “it’s really important that people in Australia to take time to study this species, to pay attention about this animal.” It is not all the Australians know the situation about Tasmanian Devils, by the contract, most of Chinese people know that panda is in danger and need us to save, that might result the situation of Devils being worse.

Tasmanian Devil is one of the Australian animals like koala and kangaroo, which is experiencing a serious situation. The Devil Facial Tumour Disease is definitely being a large cause of a population decline. Katherine added that, “But adding to that, habitat loss problems and road kill, the human effects, are also leading to the decline of wild population of Devils.” Tasmanian Devils have already suffering the disease and the population of Devils is already small on the Tasmania Island. “I think because this animal just occurs in Tasmania, and people in Australia don’t go to Tasmania, don’t understand these issues. But there are a lot of works as well, to save the species. Although in the wild is declining but captive population has been really successful, that what I work on as well.” Katherine told that. The captive population of Devils is managed by the whole project to save Tasmanian Devils among different groups or programs to make sure this population healthy without the Devil Facial Tumour Disease.

Devil with DFTD

The Programs and saving project for Tasmanian Devils

The release of Tasmanian devils need to be monitor to make sure the safety of the Devils from the insurance population back to wild. “It’s a careful process, to pick the right devils that they think could do best in the wild again to make sure that they have the best chance of surviving, in the hope that they won’t get the disease.” The releasing process of the whole project to make sure a natural environment for the captive population and be quarantine from the Devil Facial Tumour Disease. “They can’t get the disease but it still an island of Tasmania called Maria Island. So, it’s like a natural habitat and that’s been very successful. And they currently release more and more next month I think.” Katherine said. The reproduction of the captive Devils in the wild area could help increase the healthy population of wild Devils. Katherine also told me that “the insurance devils, which back to the wild again, will support the wild population but we also need to make sure they have enough captivity to keep the captive population healthy. So, we don’t release them all at once, it’s a balance.”

New Babies of Tasmanian Devils

The group of Katherine in the University of Sydney is cooperate with other programs or organisations such as Save The Tasmanian Devil Program of Tasmanian Government and Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia (ZAA). “My work has been in collaboration with the ZAA,” Kathrine said, “they are responsible for managing the captive population of devils, ZAA also work with the Save The Tasmanian Devil Program as well. On another aspect, a lot of work that our group does is to do with the genetic diversity of the devils to making sure the population healthy.” Different organisation and programs work on slightly different projects which allow the different parts of the whole saving Tasmanian Devils program to share information with each other. “We share the research, so the different groups work on slightly different projects which allows us to all kind of work together to solve different problems.”

The process of releasing some of insurance Devil population back into the wild is successful. The cooperation with different zoos increase the awareness of people about Devils, however, which is not enough.

To raise the public awareness of Tasmanian Devils is still on a long way

The education for the young generation about Tasmanian Devils in schools in Australia provides the way for students to get the common understanding of Devils and its situation. Katherine told that “Most of young people are quite aware of Tasmanian Devils, or at least, they understand or have heard about the disease.” However, Devils could not be understood as well overseas. Compare with panda in China, the results of the promotion of panda, such as various cartoon characters like Kong Fu Panda, and “panda diplomacy” engage the public to know about panda. The cartoon of Tasmanian Devil who called Taz with sharp tooth and big mouth to make audience have the confusion about what kind of animal that Devils is. “Devils are scavenger rarely attack human or other animals. They keep biological diversity balanced in the Tasmania Island, against the fox. They are cute not like their name like a devil.” As the program—Save The Tasmanian Devil Program — the awareness is growing and coming more international.

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“There are currently approximately 600 Tasmanian devils in the captive insurance population in Australia. Moreover, there are currently Tasmanian devils at two zoos in America, three zoos in New Zealand, and one zoo in Denmark. This is part of the ‘Ambassador Devils’ program to promote awareness of the Tasmanian devil overseas.”

Fortunately, the situation of Tasmanian Devils is becoming better by the reintroductions programs, the captive population is keeping a balanced increase. The public awareness about saving Devils could be raised through the promotion overseas like people about panda. “The background of the reason why Devils becoming extinct may complicated, but Devils need the chance to survive.  Perhaps one day there will be Tasmanian devils in China!”

Useful websites for all the readers to know more about Tasmanian Devils


Student: Mo Chen (Flora)

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