The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), a member of the Dasyuridae family and the biggest carnivorous marsupial in the world, is virtually solely found on the Australian island of Tasmania. It is about the size of a raccoon.
It is the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial. The Thylacine, which went extinct in 1936, gave it this name. It can produce the most lethal bite of any terrestrial mammal due to the size of its enormous head and neck.
It has a robust build, a strong smell, and a loud, unsettling shriek. It is black in color. They used to be common throughout Australia, but today only the islands of Tasmania and Maria Island are home to them.
The IUCN Red List declared it an endangered species in 2008. This species is becoming endangered for a number of causes, which will be covered soon, but the most critical reason why Tasmanian devils are facing the prospect of becoming extinct is because of the deadly Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD).
The future viability of the Tasmanian devil is uncertain due to a variety of diseases and human activities.
In reality, it is believed that the stocky creature, with its distinctive black fur and white markings, became extinct on the mainland hundreds or even thousands of years ago.
Following the outbreak of the Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD), which has expanded throughout the species in recent years, the species was designated as endangered by the IUCN Red List in 2008.
Due to extinction fears, a tiny population has been restored in New South Wales.
The “Tassie” devil was formerly designated as a species of least concern in 1996, but in 2008, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) proclaimed it to be endangered.
The native marsupial of Australia has encountered a lot of difficulties, such as infectious facial cancer and widespread human persecution, which have caused its numbers to fall from as many as 150,000 in the 1990s to as few as 10,000 now, and populations are ever declining.
Find out what we can do to help save these endangered devils and the risks they face.
Table of Contents
4 Reasons Why the Tasmanian Devil is Endangered
What remains of the endangered Tasmanian devil must now withstand the dangers of human encroachment and climate change after a species-specific sickness nearly wiped it off the map in the 1990s.
1. Devil Facial Tumor Disease DFTD
In 1996, a parasitic cancer known as DFTD was first identified. It is highly aggressive and spreads through fighting and other means between demons.
Some of the impacted high-density groups saw a mortality rate that was almost 100%. Since the epidemic, the number of Tasmanian devils has decreased by about 70%, and about 80% of the remaining population is infected.
The disease is often spread when an infected devil bites another devil, who is then directly affected. Other transmission routes include sharing food or eating an infected cadaver.
The devil’s mouth and lips initially develop lumps or sores that quickly spread. Around the face, malignant tumors form and frequently invade the entire body.
An infected devil typically passes away within six months as a result of organ failure, subsequent infection, or starvation brought on by the inability to feed.
Unfortunately, there are other factors as well that pose a threat to the Tasmanian devil’s survival.
The Tasmanian devil, like other creatures, is a possible prey item for a predator. Due to the DFTD and the fact that foxes are typically Tasmanian devil predators, their population has dropped.
The Tasmanian devil’s chances of receiving a proper meal to survive are decreased because the tumor already restricts its ability to eat adequately and many other creatures in its ecosystem fight with it for food, making it difficult to draw Tasmanian devils toward death by starvation.
It is expected that the Tasmanian devil may go extinct by 2035 if things continue as they have so far.
2. Human Activity
One more significant predator is people. Road kills, which are predicted to kill 2,205 devils annually at the time of the IUCN assessment, are the second major threat to Tasmanian devils after DFTD.
According to the study, 50% of Tasmanian devil deaths in Cradle Mountain National Park, a well-liked tourist destination with more than 200,000 annual visitors, were caused by automobile accidents.
After spending time in captivity, devils were released back into the wild in 2017, However, a University of Sydney study found that they were more likely to be hit by cars because they were “naive to wild settings.” lead study author Catherine Grueber said.
This makes captive breeding operations and other conservation efforts to repopulate devil populations more difficult.
Persecution has had a small influence on animals. According to reports, sheep breeders allegedly poison more than 5,000 people every year.
The IUCN stated in their assessment that “current persecution is greatly diminished,” but added that it “may still be regionally intense with over 500 devils thought to be killed every year.”
3. Loss and fragmentation of habitat
Unfortunately, no species is impervious to this more so than Tasmanian devils.
Because habitat fragmentation hinders the species’ ability to reproduce, it may lower repopulation rates. Habitat loss is most obvious: the less space they have to dwell in, the lower their population can be.
However, habitat fragmentation might be advantageous for the maintenance of devil populations as a result of its propensity to slow the spread of the disease that causes facial tumors.
4. Climate Change
Climate change is not included as a major danger in the IUCN’s 2008 report, but a later study using the largest genetic dataset available on Tasmanian devils revealed that the problem is more serious than previously considered.
According to the study, Australia’s increasingly dry circumstances cause a shortage of prey availability and habitat, and as the devil population declines, the gene pool gets smaller and smaller, which among other things results in decreased disease resistance.
What occurs if the devils vanish?
Tasmanian devils are essential to maintaining the equilibrium of the surrounding ecology. The number of foxes and feral cats might skyrocket, and dozens of animal species, many of which are exclusive to Tasmania, would disappear if they went extinct. If the Tasmanian devils go extinct, all of Tasmania’s species may eventually suffer.
- 10 Animal Testing Debate Questions and Possible Answers
- Top 7 Alternatives to Animal Testing
- Top 10 Most Endangered Animals in Africa
- Top 10 Endangered Marine Animals
- 24-hour Animal Hospitals Near Me
A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.