Save The Tasmanian Devil
Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) threatens the existence of this internationally-recognized icon. In some areas, more than 80% of the Tasmanian devil population has been wiped out. While the threat to the Tasmanian devil due to DFTD continues to spread through wild populations in Tasmania, significant advances in the Insurance Population and protecting isolated devil populations, are enabling the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program to commence a new phase in the species' conservation - focusing on recovery in the wild.
DFTD is a fatal condition in Tasmanian devils, characterised by cancers around the head and neck
The Save the Tasmanian Devil Program has now moved towards population monitoring, field research, and research and development into possible immunization techniques. Creation of a vaccine will ensure a disease-free future for the Tasmanian devil living where it belongs, in the wild. With losses of well over 80% of Tasmanian devils through the contagious cancer the future for the devil looked bleak.
However, over the past 10 years of collaborative research and conservation programs, progress has been extraordinary. An Insurance Population has been established, the impact of the disease in the wild is monitored regularly, and disease-free facilities to hold the species in wild and semi-wild populations have been built.
Investigation into the nature of DFTD and determining paths to halt the spread of the disease has progressed significantly. Researchers are now in the position to develop a vaccine, rekindling hopes of saving this iconic species in the wild. The ambitious goal of vaccine development is now a reality. The next step is to validate the research and trial and refine the vaccine with 60 wild Tasmanian devils over the next three years.
AAT Kings and TreadRight have committed to fund the management, care and feeding of five "research" devils, which are crucial to understanding how a vaccine against DFTD might work in the wild. Ongoing work with these animals will contribute to help find a disease-free future for the Tasmanian devil.