Saving The Tasmanian Devils With TROVAN
The Tasmanian devil is the worlds largest carnivorous marsupial now found in the wild only on the Australian island of Tasmania. They are the size of a small dog and are characterized by their stocky and muscular build, black fur, pungent odor, extremely loud and disturbing screech, keen sense of smell and ferocity when feeding. The Tasmanian devil’s large head and neck allow it to generate the strongest bite per unit body mass. Tasmanian devils are nocturnal, spending their days alone in hollow logs, caves or burrows, and emerging at night to feed. They use their long whiskers and excellent sense of smell and sight too avoid predators and locate prey and carrion. Devils are opportunistic predators but they eat carrion more often than they hunt live prey. They feed on small prey, such as snakes, birds, ﬁsh, frogs, reptiles and insects. They will eat pretty much anything they can get their teeth on, and when they do ﬁnd food, they will eliminate all traces of the carcass, consuming everything- including hair, organs, and bones. Although devils are
primarily solitary creatures, they will frequently feast communally on carrion. They are known for their rowdy feedings when jockeying for position on a large carcass which can be heard several kilometers away. Tasmanian devils are not monogamous, and their reproductive process is robust and competitive. Males ﬁght one another for the females, and then guard their partners to prevent female inﬁdelity. Females average four breeding seasons in their lifetime and give birth to about 20-30 young each time. Since the female gives birth to more young than her pouch will accommodate, the newborns will ﬁght for survival and only about 3 to 4 will grow to maturity. After 5 to 6 months, the baby devils are fully weaned, and by the end of their 2nd year, they are ready to breed. The devil is an iconic symbol of Tasmania and many organizations, groups and products associated with the state use the animal in their logos. This was not always the case though. Efforts in the late 1800s to eradicate Tasmanian devils, which farmers erroneously believed were killing livestock, were nearly successful. In 1941, the government made devils a protected species, and their numbers grew steadily since. Now they face another troubling problem- Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD). This catastrophic illness discovered in the mid-1990s has killed tens of thousands of Tasmanian devils. Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD) is a term used to describe a fatal condition in Tasmanian devils which is characterized by the appearance of obvious facial cancers. The tumors, or cancers, are ﬁrst noticed in and around the mouth as small lesions or lumps.These develop into large tumors around the face and neck and sometimes even in other parts of the body. Adults appear to be most affected by the disease. As the cancers develop in affected devils, they ﬁnd it hard to ingest food. The animal weakens further making it difﬁcult to compete with other animals for food. Affected animals appear to die within three to ﬁve months of the lesions ﬁrst appearing, from starvation and the breakdown of body functions. Since the late 1990s, devil facial tumor disease has drastically reduced the devil population and now threatens the survival of the species, which in 2008 was declared endangered. Programs are currently being undertaken by the Government of Tasmania to reduce the impact of the disease, including an initiative to build up a group of healthy devils in captivity,
isolated from the disease. Isolated colonies of Tasmanian devils that are known to be free of DFTD virus have been set up on Maria Island off the east coast of Tasmania. There is no native population of Tasmanian devils on this island and the thinking is that this isolated population can then be used to reestablish the population in Tasmania proper once the disease has taken its ﬁnal toll. LID-608MULTI decoders with data logger are being used together with ANTSQR500 antennas, matched with optical beam sensor and solar panel battery charging, to detect the presence of the animal.