Bringing Devils Back into the Tasmanian Wild
Twenty healthy devils were released back into the wild at Narawntapu National Park (NNP) in northern Tasmania, vaccinated with a potentially game changing vaccine against the Devil Facial Tumour Disease.
This field trial will test the immunisation response against DFTD to help refine and develop more effective vaccination techniques.
Re-wilding through insurance population animals is an important part of the program as it assists in increasing the genetic diversity of suppressed wild populations as well as directly increasing numbers.
The animals released at NNP will join existing devils already living in the park. Save The Tasmanian Devil Program staff will return two weeks after the release, then four weeks, then eight and then 12 weeks later to monitor the devil population.
The 20 devils (11 males and 9 females) come from an Insurance Population housed in Free Range Enclosures (FREs) at Bicheno and Launceston.
This field trial is a tangible step in the journey to bring the devil back into the Tasmanian wild; the next milestone will be to see them start breeding in the wild and thus further ensuring their chances of survival into the future.
This is an important step in ensuring the Tasmanian devil’s long term survival in the wild. This program is about re-establishing and boosting wild populations in Tasmania.
Significant advances in the Insurance Population and work to protect isolated devil populations have enabled the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program (STDP) to develop and commence this next step in the species' conservation.
It is part of the Wild Devil Recovery Project that places emphasis on population monitoring, field research and testing of possible vaccines and immunisation techniques, resulting in the implementation of work to manage wild devil populations.
The Tasmanian devil, as a species, is now more secure than it has been at any time during the past decade due to the outstanding success of the Insurance Population program.
However the devil continues to face serious ongoing challenges to its survival in the wild. That is why the Tasmanian Government is redoubling its efforts in facilitating further research into the Devil Facial Tumour Disease as well toward the development of effective vaccines.
The release of the healthy devils is an important new phase in ongoing efforts to save this iconic species, the Tasmanian devil, in the wild. We owe it to this precious and iconic species to secure a strong, disease free future in its natural setting, where it belongs – in the wild.
The Wild Devil Recovery Project is a joint initiative between the Menzies Institute for Medical Research and the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program (STDP) and is supported through funding from the Tasmanian Government.
Coastal conservation boosted by major donation
Coastal conservation in Tasmania received a boost this week with a donation of $25,000 to the WILDCARE Tasmanian Coast Conservation Fund by award winning tourism operator Robert Pennicott of Bruny Island Charters and Tasman Island Cruises.
Last year Mr Pennicott co-founded the fund with a donation of $40,000.
This brings the fund's total to about $70,000, with $41,000 already allocated to a project to eradicate cats from Tasman Island in the Tasman National Park.
The Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage, Michelle O'Byrne, said that Mr Pennicott is leading the way in conservation philanthropy in Tasmania.
"Hopefully his actions are setting a trend for Tasmanian businesses," Ms O'Byrne said.
As a WILDCARE Natural Partner, Mr Pennicott informs his customers that a portion of their ticket price goes towards the Tasmanian Coast Conservation Fund and that additional donations are welcome.
Mr Pennicott said he had not actively encouraged donations from customers but part of their eco-tour ticket price went to funds and charities.
"The response to this has been very positive," Mr Pennicott said. "In fact, when this is explained during the eco-tour, we often get a round of applause."
The Tasmanian Coast Conservation Fund is only one aspect of Bruny Island Charters and Tasman Island Cruises's donation platform.
The business contributes to at least 10 community projects locally on Bruny Island as well as interstate and international projects, a philosophy which last year saw the company awarded the Telstra national Sensis Australian Social Responsibility Award 2008 as well as the Telstra Australian MYOB Small Business of the Year 2008 award.
On the day that Mr Pennicott delivered his donation cherub to the WILDCARE Tasmanian Coast Conservation Fund, he also delivered a $27,000 donation to Greening Australia for carbon offsetting projects in the local area.
"Donation and conservation is something that is really close to our hearts," Mr Pennicott said.
"I'm not in it for the money. I'm fortunate to have staff who are like family to me and they are excited to be a part of this as well."
Mr Pennicott sees concern for the environment increasing among the community.
"People want to do this, both through business and individually and to make the world a better place we need to do this.
"Wouldn't it be lovely if in 10 years, we look back at this 10 year period and could say that we either improved the environment or at least maintained what we have. That's what I'd love to be a part of."
Parks and Wildlife Service Community Programs manager Andrew Smith said the Tasmanian Coast Conservation Fund was established to contribute towards protection, conservation and management of coastal reserves, marine mammals and seabirds.
"WILDCARE Inc will call for project submissions that contribute to the fund's objectives. The submissions are then assessed by the WILDCARE Gift Fund Committee, an independent committee appointed by WILDCARE Inc," Mr Smith said.