An endangered species has returned to its native land for the first time in millennia, in a move that could give a much-needed boost to Australia’s wildlife population.
Many people associated the Tasmanian devil with the Looney Tunes character, but it is a real species with a complex ecological history: they originated from mainland Australia, but the species faltered due to competition from dingoes, and were eventually only found on the island of Tasmania.
They have not been native to the Australian mainland for 3,000 years, and are now an endangered species.
But now, that has all changed. For the first time in 3,000 years, Tasmanian devils have been reintroduced to the mainland, part of an ambitious effort to improve the Australian wildlife population.
After a decade of studying these animals, Aussie Ark, in partnership with Global Wildlife Conservation and WildArk, released 11 Tasmanian devils into a thousand-acre wildlife sanctuary.
“In 100 years, we are going to be looking back at this day as the day that set in motion the ecological restoration of an entire country,” said Tim Faulkner, president of Aussie Ark in a press release.
“Someday we will see Tasmanian devils living throughout the great eastern forests as they did 3,000 years ago.”
It was a big moment for the environment—one that deserved a little Hollywood fanfare.
Chris Hemsworth, best known for playing Thor in the Avengers film series, and his wife, Fast and the Furious actress Elsa Pataky, were both on hand to help release the Tasmanian devils.
Hemsworth is an Australia native, and the couple are supporters of WildArk.
The goal of reintroducing the Tasmanian devils is to help bring balance to the Australian wildlife.
“Not only is this the reintroduction of one of Australia’s beloved animals, but of an animal that will engineer the entire environment around it, restoring and rebalancing our forest ecology after centuries of devastation from introduced foxes and cats and other invasive predators,” Faulkner said.
“The devil comeback will help regulate populations of possums and wallabies and push back invasive cats and foxes, allowing our native small mammals to recover, and our forests to regenerate and lock up carbon,” Mark Hutchinson explains in a YouTube video.
Helping Australia’s environment is more important now than ever, after the continent suffered historic bushfires earlier this year.
“The fires earlier this year were absolutely devastating and threatened to rob us of our hope,” Faulkner said. “This is our response to that threat of despair: come what may, ultimately we will not be deterred in our efforts to put an end to extinction and to rewild Australia.”
Forty more Tasmanian devils will be released over the next two years, and the groups will be keeping a close eye on their behavior and changes to the wildlife populations.
What exciting news! We hope these Tasmanian devils help restore Australia’s wildlife now that their back in their homeland after 3,000 years.
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