Saving our little devils – SSAA NSW partners with Devil Ark for conservation

SSAA NSW is pleased to have joined forces with Devil Ark, a registered charity organisation dedicated to ensuring the survival of the endangered Tasmanian devil.

The iconic Tasmanian devil is at serious risk of extinction from the highly contagious devil facial tumour disease (DFTD). Unfortunately for the devils, they bite frequently when feeding, socialising and mating, so the disease has spread quickly. The population of wild Tasmanian devils has plummeted by more than 90 per cent since 1996 when the first case of DFTD was discovered. In 2010, Devil Ark joined an innovative captive breeding program to save the Tasmanian devil from extinction.

SSAA NSW Executive Director and Devil Ark ambassador Diana Melham sees the state Association’s partnership with Devil Ark as a perfect opportunity to participate in a successful initiative and demonstrate the commitment of SSAA NSW and its members to conservation. “SSAA NSW has continually promoted the importance of conserving our environment and protecting native fauna and flora, so this is a great project to be involved in,” she said. “We also promote the importance and value of the role played by many SSAA members in protecting the environment as well as native and endangered species.”

The actual ‘ark’ is located at Barrington Tops in NSW. At an altitude of 1350m, Devil Ark provides the perfect breeding environment for devils with Tasmanian-like vegetation and cool, wet and snowy conditions, making the animals feel right at home.

A number of the devils also live at the Australian Reptile Park in Somersby, NSW, where they are on display for visitors and help to further the Devil Ark program with Devil Ark general manager and TV personality Tim Faulkner. “As a registered charity, Devil Ark largely relies on external support from project partners such as Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia NSW to maintain the facility,” said Tim. “We’re eternally thankful for all those who support us in our mission to save the Tasmanian devil from extinction. We don’t want to end up with another sad Australian mammal extinction like we did with the Tasmanian tiger.”

SSAA NSW provides hunter education, training and accreditation as well as various opportunities for members to participate in pest animal management and conservation activities. Initiatives such as SSAA Farmer Assist and the National Parks Supplementary Pest Control program are perfect examples of the valuable contribution to conservation made by SSAA and its members.

For more information about the Devil Ark program, including how to make a donation, visit their website.

Devil Ark quick facts

  • Devil Ark’s facility was opened in 2010 and started with only 44 founder devils.
  • Devil Ark currently has more than 150 healthy devils roaming in its 13 free-range facilities.
  • More than 150 healthy, genetically diverse and disease-free joeys have been born over five breeding seasons.
  • The first batch of 22 devils were released back home in Tasmania in November 2015.
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