The notorious Tasmanian devil has been listed as an endangered species this week. Surprisingly, it is not a result of human deforestation, but rather a virulent cancer epidemic in the devil population. The tumor grows quickly over the marsupials’ face and mouth. This prevents the animals from eating. The usually die from starvation or the cancer. It is in fact contagious, and is passed from animal to animal through biting. The Tasmanian devil’s population has decreased by around 60 percent.
A Healthy Devil (left) and a Cancer Infected Devil (Right)
As the devil goes from being a vulnerable to an endangered species, Australia plans to pump more money into conservation to protect one of its most famous or notorious animals. More healthy animals are being placed in zoos and wildlife reserves to protect them from the spreading cancer. If the number in the wild decreases too much, these could be the replacements.
The Tasmanian devil is the largest carnivorous marsupial. It is found only in Tasmania, in Australias south-eastern state. Early European settlers to the area named the feisty creature the devil for its spine-chilling screeches, dark appearance, bad temper which, and strong jaw.