About Devil Ark
Devil Ark is a not for profit organisation and registered charity and dedicated in ensuring the survival of the endangered Tasmanian devil at risk of extinction due to Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD). Wild populations have plummeted by more than 90% since 1996 when the first case of DFTD was discovered.
In 2009, Devil Ark joined an innovative captive breeding program to save the Tasmanian devil from going extinct. Devil Ark plays a critical role in creating an insurance population of the Tasmanian devil. Devil Ark’s facility was built in 2011 with only 44 founder devils. Over the past four years, we have achieved a lot and made a big difference towards the survival of the Tasmanian devil.
- We currently have over 150 healthy devils roaming in our 13 free-range facilities
- Over 150 healthy, genetically diverse and disease-free joeys have been born over 5 breeding seasons.
- We releasing our first batch of 22 devils back home to Tasmania in November 2015
With your help, we can ensure the survival of this amazing, iconic species – Extinction is not an option.
Our current business plan is available for you to read here
Devil Ark is a conservation project with real outcomes. It is a cost-effective and efficient conservation model for species recovery to create an insurance population to mitigate against possible extinction in the wild. We should learn from our mistakes. Australia is ranked as having the worst mammalian extinction in the world and we cannot let further extinctions take place. One of the most infamous extinctions is the loss of the enigmatic Thylacine or Tasmanian tiger due to hunting. The Tasmanian devil is its closest living relative and it’s all of our responsibility to ensure that this iconic, native species remains alive and well and continue to play a key ecological role in the eco-system.
Devil Ark started in 2011 with just 44 Tasmanian devils. Since then, we’ve had 5 successful breeding seasons with over 180 healthy joeys born. Our devils are paired for breeding to maximize genetic diversity and the natural conditions at Devil Ark preserve the devil’s normal wild-type behaviours resulting in natural and successful breeding. We believe in our efforts to ensure the survival of the Tasmanian devil. We have to weather the storm that is Devil Facial Tumour Disease and repopulate Tasmania with a healthy population to combat the possible threat of extinction.
90% of the wild population has disappeared! Captive populations are critical as an Insurance population. Our goal is to produce 320 healthy, genetically diverse and disease-free devils by 2018
Four years since its inception, Devil Ark is now a state-of-the-art facility comprised of with over 150 healthy, genetically-diverse Tasmanian devils. Genetic diversity is rapidly diminishing in Tasmania, so at Devil Ark, we are breeding an insurance population of healthy, disease-free devils to preserve the species. Currently, over 150 healthy and wild devils call Devil Ark home – this includes the new batch of 37 joeys born in 2015.
Devil Ark provides the perfect breeding environment for the Tasmanian devil as it simulates the Tasmanian habitat and climate. Set on 500 hectares, 25 hectares has been fenced off by an escape and entry proof perimeter fence and comprised of 13 Managed Environmental Enclosures (MEE). Devil Ark’s facilities include a food preparation facility, veterinary care facility and ten ‘holding’ or intensive pens.
Managed Environment Enclosures (MEE)
Devil Ark’s enclosures are large (at least two hectares each) and naturalistic with multiple dens. Each enclosure contains a small group of devils that behave as they would in the wild. With limited human exposure, the devils retain their wild behavioural traits, maintaining their independence and relying on their own natural instincts to prepare them for eventual release back in the wild in Tasmania. MEE enclosures are a great benefit to the insurance population program because devils tend to retain their wild behaviours because of less intensive management like zoos.
All of our devils are looked after until end of life, meaning that those that are too old to breed will live out their natural life in a free-range environment. We currently have over 150 devils living in MEEs that are divided according to their age and reproductive capability; too young to breed, too old to breed, genetically surplus population and core breeding population. They are placed in respective enclosures we would like to refer to as the following;
- Juvenile crèche
- Breeding yard
- Retirement Home
|January||Devils settle into their new yard. Females find dens and males work out their hierarchy in the social order.|
|February||First oestrus. Devils commence breeding.|
|March||First oestrus. Females will give birth over a 2-day period.|
|April||Second oestrus. Females that did not fall pregnant during the first oestrus, will mate again.|
|May||Second oestrus. If successful, females will give birth.|
|June||Third oestrus. Females that did not fall pregnant again during the second oestrus, will try again.
Undertake pouch checks for females that did successfully breed and check the progress of the joeys.
|July||Third oestrus females that were successful will give birth.|
|August||Set up camera traps at den sites to observe joeys.|
|September||Undertake pouch checks for females that did successfully breed and check the progress of the joeys|
|October||Plan the breeding yards for the following year and transfer devils to other project partner zoos and/or sanctuaries.|
|November||Track joeys as they naturally disperse from their mums. Reconfigure the Managed Environmental Enclosures for breeding.|
|December||Continue the reconfiguration of the MEEs in readiness for the next year.|