Story at a glance

  • The carnivorous marsupial disappeared entirely from the Australian mainland following the arrival of dingoes, a species of wild dog.
  • The remaining population has been isolated on the island state of Tasmania, where it’s being threatened by a contagious form of cancer known as Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD).
  • The animals have successfully reproduced on the mainland after researchers released dozens last year.

Tasmanian devils have been born in the wild in mainland Australia for the first time in more than 3,000 years, raising hopes the endangered animal can establish a sustainable presence there. 

The carnivorous marsupial disappeared entirely from the Australian mainland following the arrival of dingoes, a species of wild dog. 


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The remaining population has been isolated on the island state of Tasmania, where it’s being threatened by a contagious form of cancer known as Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD). The disease has killed around 90 percent of the population since it was discovered in 1996. 

It’s estimated that fewer than 25,000 Tasmanian devils live in the wild. 

In an effort to save the species, Australian conservation group Aussie Ark kicked off a breeding program more than a decade ago and released dozens of the animals into the wild last year in the Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary in New South Wales. 

Researchers announced this week that months after their release, the animals have successfully reproduced on the mainland and seven baby Tasmanian devils were born. 

“We have been working tirelessly for the better part of 10 years to return Devils to the wild of mainland Australia with the hope that they would establish a sustainable population. Once they were back, it was entirely up to them,” Aussie Ark said in a Facebook post

“We had been watching them from afar until it was time to step in and confirm the birth of our first wild joeys. And what a moment it was,” the group said. 

Researchers will be monitoring the joeys’ progress and plan to release more Tasmanian devils into the sanctuary with the aim of eventually releasing them in unfenced areas. 


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Published on May 26, 2021