Tasmanian devil
Tasmanian devil
Tasmanian devil
Tasmanian devil
Tasmanian devil

Common name: Tasmanian devil
Scientific name: Sarcophilus harrisii
Length: 50 to 80 centimeters
Weight: 5.5 to 12 kg (12 to 26 lbs.) for males, 4 to 8 kg (9 to 17.5 lbs.) for females
Population: Approximately 20,000 individuals
Distribution: In forests in Tasmania, an island located south of Australia
Issues: Diseases (Devil Facial Tumour Disease – DFTD), road accidents, human persecution, exogenous species (dog, fox), low genetic diversity
IUCN Red List status: Endangered

The Tasmanian devil is listed as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM. Although now found only in Tasmania, this iconic animal formerly occupied much of the Australian mainland, but disappeared at least 400 years ago, and possibly as long as several thousand years ago.

Historically, early European settlers considered the Tasmanian Devil a nuisance that killed poultry. As a consequence, it was intensively persecuted for many years through trapping and poisoning until a protective law was passed in 1941 that saw numbers gradually rise again. Today, the greatest threat to this species is the fatal cancer known as Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD). Since its discovery, Tasmanian Devil numbers have declined by 60%, and localized declines exceed 90% in places where the disease has been present for the longest time.

Considerable effort is being made at the local, national and international level to reverse the fate of the Tasmanian Devil. At the forefront of this is the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program, which aims to monitor the impact of DFTD, develop methods of managing its impact and maintain a disease-free insurance population.

REFERENCES: Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Encyclopedia of Life.

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