Tasmanian devils are an endangered species, but scientists that were on a conservation expedition found a healthy group of the species in south-west Tasmania. This could mean that the species can be saved.
These Australian marsupials have lost many of its members because of an infectious facial cancer spreading and killing almost 80% of the devils in Tasmania, said local media.
It looks like that cancer gets passed from one to another when they fight or mate. Scientists received funding after a crowdfunding campaign, and collaborating with Save the Tasmanian Devil Program, University of Sydney, Faculty of Science and Toledo Zoo (Ohio, US), they went on a search expedition to find some Tasmanian devils.
Eight Days to Catch the ‘Devils’
It took scientists eight days to explore Wreck Bay and Nye Bay, to find and trap some devils for testing. They took some tissue samples and now study the genetics of the healthy members, comparing the results with the infected ones.
Team leader of the expedition and research, and adjunct biologist to Toledo Zoo, Dr. Sam Fox stated:
“The 14 individual devils trapped were in good condition. And more importantly, there were no signs of disease. Overall the results show that the population in this area of the south-west coast is small and healthy.”
An Opportunity to Save the Species
Dr. David Pemberton, the manager of the ‘Save the Tasmanian Devil Program’ said that their discovery was significant:
“Finding devils with fresh genetic diversity gives us opportunities.”
This way, with the help of scientists, they can help preserve and save the species of the Tasmanian Devils. These marsupials are the largest carnivorous marsupial, and they only live in Tasmania. IT’s their scream that earned them the ‘devil’ part of their name.
Back in the UK, researchers have found at the beginning of this year, that the species could be saved by using human cancer drugs.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.