The Tasmanian devil has been extinct on mainland Australia for around 3000 years, however ecologists have provided evidence to suggest a mainland reintroduction would benefit both the devil as well as mainland ecosystems.
By returning the devil to mainland Australia, we might help restore ecosystem function that evolved between devils and other native species on mainland Australia.
These missing interactions were vital for healthy functioning ecosystems operating over millennia. There is also potential that the devil may predate upon, compete with, or cause foxes and feral cats to spatially avoid regions with healthy devil populations. This interaction may reduce the impact of foxes and feral cats on Australia’s critical weight range species (between 35 grams and 5.5 kilograms).
Devils may therefore also help to reduce the reliance on baiting and shooting of our feral predators, reducing the requirement for ecosystem management intervention over time. Reintroducing the devil might also provide an insurance population Tasmanian devils, whose wild population in Tasmania has declined by over 80% in the past 20 years due to a disease epidemic. Wild devils on mainland Australia might allow this insurance population to retain their wild behaviours.
How Devils Change Forests
Did you know that devils evolved on mainland Australia and only disappeared in the last few millennia? Watch our story on how bringing the devil back might help restore our ecosystems.
Rewilding Australia is developing a reintroduction plan for the Tasmanian devil to mainland Australia. We are also working at ensuring the devil is recognised as a missing vital component in mainland Australian ecosystems.
Why Barrington Tops National Park?
Barrington Tops typifies a climate similar to the existing climate conditions wild Tasmanian devils inhabit in Tasmania. The Park has healthy populations of native prey species for devils, and reintroduced captive devils could be released in locations that are remote enough from a key threat – that of roads – which are a potential significant threat to reintroduced devil populations.
How Devils Change Forests – References
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