For the first time in 3,000 years, Tasmanian devils have reunited with mainland Australia in an event crowned by actors Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky. The actors helped conservationists in Australia release 11 Tasmanian devils into a 1,000-acre wildlife sanctuary in a bid to restore the lost glory of Australia’s wilderness. Although Tasmanian devils are originally from Australia, they have not stepped on the mainland for more than 3,000 years.
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The event was part of a long-term project that was started 10 years ago by Aussie Ark in partnership with Global Wildlife Conservation and WildArk. The mission is to find and bring animals that were originally native to Australia back to their motherland.
“In 100 years, we are going to be looking back at this day as the day that set in motion the ecological restoration of an entire country,” Tim Faulkner, president of Aussie Ark, said. “Not only is this the reintroduction of one of Australia’s beloved animals, but of an animal that will engineer the entire environment around it, restoring and rebalancing our forest ecology after centuries of devastation from introduced foxes and cats and other invasive predators. Because of this reintroduction and all of the hard work leading up to it, someday we will see Tasmanian devils living throughout the great eastern forests as they did 3,000 years ago.”
Although Tasmanian devils are originally from mainland Australia, their population started dwindling due to the introduction of dingoes. Besides predators such as dingoes, the endangered Tasmanian devil also faces a contagious disease known as Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD). This disease has killed up to 90% of wild Tasmanian devils. Today, only 25,000 of the species are left in Tasmania.
Thanks to the campaign to repopulate Australia’s wild, there are now 26 Tasmanian devils in mainland Australia. Besides the 11 that were released recently, the organizations behind the campaign had earlier released 15 Tasmanian devils to the sanctuary for trial purposes. If all goes well, the conservationists will be releasing 40 more Tasmanian devils to the sanctuary in the next two years. The animals that are released to the sanctuary will be monitored to determine how they cope within their environment.