Our Latest News

Horsetail Falls walk now open

15/11/2017

Visitors to the West Coast are in for some spectacular views on the new Horsetail Falls walk near Queenstown.More

Bruny Island Neck lookout re-opens

10/11/2017

The walkways and lookout at the Bruny Island Neck will re-open to the public today, following the completion of a new, larger car park that will provide improved access to the popular lookout.More

Maintaining vigilance with campfires

03/11/2017

Parks and Wildlife Service staff have thanked the many campers who have heeded the restrictions placed on campfires and pot fires, but ask that park and reserve visitors continue to take care while the fire risk remains high in certain areas of the State.More

World Heritage Values

Fauna

The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (WHA) provides secure habitats for some of the most unique animals in the world. It also offers a final refuge for species that have only recently become extinct on mainland Australia and for those species that are threatened within Tasmania. The WHA is sufficiently large to allow natural, ongoing evolution to continue to operate free from the influence of humanity. The WHA is the world centre of diversity for a number of animal groups, such as the freshwater fish known as galaxids, freshwater crayfish, velvet worms and amphipods. The antiquity of many species reveals insights into the evolution of life on Earth.

Ancient Relicts

Anaspides

The ancient Anaspides

Many species which occur within the WHA are ancient relicts from a distant past. Species such as the velvet worms (Euperipatoides and Ooperipatellus spp.) have changed little in the last half billion years. They are considered the 'missing link' between the annelids (worms) and the arthropods (crustaceans and insects).

Tasmania acts as a living museum of species which reveal Gondwanan origins. Their closest relatives are found in the other continents that comprised Gondwana - South America, New Zealand, Antarctica and southern Africa. Such vertebrate groups as the marsupials, parrots, frogs, and freshwater fish comprise many species of Gondwanan ancestry. The invertebrate fauna is particularly rich in Gondwanan species, such as the 250 million year old mountain shrimp (Anaspides tasmaniae), one of the most ancient representatives of the Crustaceans.

Wildlife Unlike Any Other

Tasmanian devil

Tasmanian devil -- only found in Tasmania

Tasmania is home to many unique animals which are quite unlike those found anywhere else in the world. Tasmania and the WHA have a high proportion of endemic species (species found nowhere else in the world) - a consequence of the continuing evolution of the fauna in isolation. Five species of mammal are endemic to the island, while over half of our mammal species are recognised as distinct subspecies from their mainland counterparts.

The three largest carnivorous marsupials in the world - Tasmanian devil, the spotted-tail quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) and eastern quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus) - can be found in the WHA.

The Tasmanian devil is well known for its remarkable vocalisations.

Our lizard fauna includes three distinct species which have evolved remarkable adaptations such as live-birth, storage of sperm within the female's body over the winter months and considerable control over their body temperatures - all adaptations to the cooler climate of the Tasmanian highlands.

A Final Refuge

Eastern quoll

The eastern quoll is
now extinct on mainland
Australia

The World Heritage Area acts as a final refuge -- a last chance -- for several species which have recently become extinct or threatened on mainland Australia. Macropod marsupials such as the pademelon (Thylogale billardierii) and the Tasmanian bettong (Bettongia gaimardi), as well as carnivorous marsupials such as the eastern quoll have died out on the mainland. Many of the processes, such as habitat loss and the impact of introduced foxes, which have led to their decline on the mainland do not operate within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.


Hope for Threatened Species

The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area also acts as a refuge for many species that are threatened within Tasmania. Nineteen rare and threatened vertebrates are found within the boundaries of the WHA. This represents 80% of such species in the State. The endangered orange-bellied parrot (Neophema chrysogaster) , of which less than 200 individuals remain, breeds solely within the south-west corner of the WHA. Similarly, the vulnerable white goshawk (Accipiter novaehollandiae) and swift parrot (Lathamus disclorare) found in the region. The remarkable Pedra Branca skink (Niveoscincus palfreymani), a small lizard with a population of only 250 individuals, is confined to the tiny rock island, Pedra Branca, some 30 km off the south-east tip of the State. The island is incorporated within the boundaries of the World Heritage Area.

Pedra Branca skink Pedra Branca

Pedra Branca skink                                        Pedra Branca Island

Four rare or threatened freshwater fish occur within the WHA. The few remaining individuals of the highly endangered Pedder galaxias (Galaxias pedderensis) have an extremely restricted distribution. A significant proportion of the 175 invertebrates listed as rare or threatened enjoy secure habitats within the WHA. These include such species as the pencil pine moth, freshwater snails, caddisflies, stoneflies and dragonflies.

For full details on the threatened species of Tasmania, see our threatened species site.