Why are Tasmanian Devils Endangered – How are Devils Endangered

Although Tasmanian devils do not have many potential predators in the natural habitat, they are nevertheless listed as endangered species. No single reason explains the declining trend in Tasmanian devil’s population but we do know that prior to European settlement devils were thriving in numbers. Prominent among the reasons are vehicle collision, human hunting, introduction of dingoes, and devil tumor facial disease. In this article we are going to discuss as to why are Tasmanian devils endangered and what are the possible threats that might renders these species redundant in their natural habitat. Let’s see how are Tasmanian devils endangered.

Why are Tasmanian Devils Endangered Now? – Tasmanian Devil Endangered Status

  1. Road Mortalities
  2. Culling
  3. Devil Facial Tumor Disease
  4. Introduction of Dingoes
  5. Arrival of Indigenous Australians

Historical Background of Tasmanian Devil Status

  • In the Pleistocene epoch, Tasmanian devils occurred all throughout the Australia.
  • Devils’ population had started to decline around 3,000 years ago in the mid-Holocene period.
  • The southeastern population had lived from the Murray River to the Post Philip in Victoria.
  • The northern Victoria’s population had been limited to New South Wales.

➀ Road Mortalities of Tasmanian Devil

  • A 2010 study indicates that Tasmanian devils are particularly vulnerable to road vehicles’ collision.
  • Young devils are most likely to get killed in car accidents largely because they are inexperienced. They will feed on roadkill or carcass without putting much thought to their overall safety.
  • Vehicle drivers have been finding it hard to detect Tasmanian devils so they could avoid probable accidents. Even at high beams they are unable to see devils. It’s almost impossible to detect devil at low beams.
  • According to the 2001 – 04 findings, 3,392 devils are killed each year in vehicle collisions. It means that 3.8 – 5.7% of the overall devil population die annually in road accidents.

➁ Culling (Selective Slaughter) 

  • Evidence suggests that the indigenous Australians much less Tasmanian settlers (as early as 1830s) would eat Tasmanian devils. They said that the devils’ taste resembles veal or a calf.
  • Not only do they kill devils for consumption—they would also hunt Tasmanian devils because they thought the devils would kill their livestock.
  • In the 19th century the fur industry had flourished the major portion of which relied on possum or wallaby hunting. Since devils would prey on both possum and wallaby, indigenous Australians started killing Tasmanian devils as devils pose significant threat to their industry.
  • In the mid-1990s as many as 10,000 Tasmanian devils were killed.
why are tasmanian devils endangered
Devil Facial Tumor Disease

➂ Devil Facial Tumor Disease

  • The devil facial tumor disease is probably one of the most common reasons that explain why Tasmanian devils are endangered in their natural habitat.
  • The devil facial tumor disease was first discovered in 1996 my Mount William. William found out that the tumor caused 80% of devil’s population to decline at a rapid rate. Tasmanian devils started to die 8 – 10 weeks after infection.
  • The epidemic tumor is thought to be contagious disease in that it spreads quickly from one devil to the other. Adult devils usually bite one another which indeed makes them rather vulnerable to the tumor.

➃ Introduction of Dingoes

  • While we do not know precisely as to why Tasmanian devils are endangered, the introduction of animals such as dingoes likely becomes the cause of devil’s population decline.
  • Dingoes and Tasmanian devils have been living in the same habitat for as long as 3,000 years but studies suggest that dingoes actively hunt baby Tasmanian devils in their dens. The introduction of dingoes may have possibly caused devils to be endangered in their native habitat.

➄ Arrival of European and Indigenous Australians

  • Prior to the European settlers or indigenous Australians, thylacines together with Tasmanian devils were quite abundant in their habitat.
  • In the 20th century the devils were hunted on a massive scale rendering them redundant in their century-old habitats.

Why are Tasmanian Devils Endangered – Video


Article Cited:

Johnson, C. N.; Wroe, S. (2003). “Causes of extinction of vertebrates during the Holocene of mainland Australia: arrival of the dingo, or human impact?”. Holocene. 13 (6): 941–948. doi:10.1191/0959683603hl682fa.

McCallum, H.; Tompkins, D. M.; Jones, M.; Lachish, S.; et al. (2007). “Distribution and Impacts of Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumor Disease”(PDF). EcoHealth. 4 (3): 318–325. doi:10.1007/s10393-007-0118-0.

Connellan, I (October–December 2008). “Tasmanian devils: Devil coast”. Australian Geographic. Retrieved 22 August 2010.

Hobday, Alistair J. (2010). “Nighttime driver detection distances for Tasmanian fauna: informing speed limits to reduce roadkill”. Wildlife Research. 37 (4): 265–272. doi:10.1071/WR09180.