Devils provide the details – leading Tasmanian devil conservation project expands

A key conservation project tasked with securing the survival of the internationally-renowned Tasmanian devil is expanding to save other special species – and shooters can proudly say we’ve played a role in the project’s success to date. The venture will be based on the Devil Ark charity, which runs a captive breeding program to preserve the Tassie devils for future generations.

The team at Aussie Ark is embarking on an ambitious plan to save seven threatened and endangered native species: the southern-brown bandicoot, eastern quoll, eastern bettong, long-nosed potoroo, Parma wallaby and red-legged pademelon. As outlined in the Federal Government’s Threatened Species Plan, efforts will be made to keep populations safe by constructing 8km of predator proof fencing around more than 500 hectares of land in the Barrington Tops, New South Wales, by 2020.

Some Tasmanian devils currently occupy areas of the Barrington Tops, including a record-breaking 51 joeys born at the ‘ark’ this year alone. Others reside at the famous Australian Reptile Park. The ark is proving vital in protecting the species from the contagious devil facial tumour disease (DFTD), which has caused wild populations to plummet by more than 90 per cent since 1996.

Commencing in 2011 with just 44 Tasmanian devils, Devil Ark provides a perfect home closely resembling the cool, wet and snowy Tasmanian environment where the species flourish. SSAA New South Wales came on board as project partners in 2016 – a Tasmanian devil even made an appearance at the 2016 SSAA SHOT Expo in Sydney. Recently, Devil Ark named one of the critters ‘Sporty’, to recognise the SSAA’s ongoing support of the project.

SSAA NSW Executive Director Diana Melham said the partnership is providing “new opportunities for the Association to help in the conservation effort”. “SSAA NSW has been exclusively invited to provide pest animal management services as part of the plan of establishing semi-wild fenced release sites that are free from introduced predators,” she said. “On-ground actions will include the use of dedicated volunteers to perform integrated ground shooting operations with trapping, erecting exclusion fencing, habitat construction and weed management.”

SSAA NSW volunteers will also be acting as citizen scientists for the University of Melbourne, providing tissue samples from feral cats and foxes that are removed during the program for research into the spread of toxoplasmosis. Feral cats and the European red fox have been identified as key threats to populations.

The Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species (FAME), which SSAA National proudly supported in its western quoll reintroduction efforts in South Australia, has also joined forces with Aussie Ark to assist with three of the species: the long-nosed potoroo, southern-brown bandicoot and the eastern bettong.

Visit Aussie Ark for more information.

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