Barrington Tops' Devil Ark set to release devils to Tasmania

UNLESS you have lived or spent time in Tasmania your image of a Tasmanian devil may stick to a certain spinning, ravenous Looney Tune character known as Taz.

Although, according to Devil Ark's Jennifer Croes, this character bears little resemblance to the varying personalities and loveable qualities of the over 150 Tasmanian devils living in Barrington Tops' Devil Ark.

While Taz may have made a comeback in the 1990s, it was in 1996 that the Tasmanian devil's population began to fall due to a transmissible cancer Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD). In some parts of Tasmania, numbers have plummeted to less than 10 per cent.

There is no vaccine for the disease, so in order to secure the survival of the species the Tasmanian devil breeding program was created.

In November Devil Ark will attempt to re-populate Tasmania with disease-free, genetically diverse devils.

ALL ABOARD: In November 2015, around 25 Devil Ark Tasmanian Devils will be released back in Tasmania in a fenced-off peninsula.

ALL ABOARD: In November 2015, around 25 Devil Ark Tasmanian Devils will be released back in Tasmania in a fenced-off peninsula.

Around 22 to 25 devils have been selected to return to Tasmania.

When they reach their destination they will be released to live inside a monitored peninsula, due to strains of the Devil Facial Tumour Disease still existing within the natural population.

Eventually it is hoped the untreatable disease will die out completely.

As Jennifer explains Tasmanian devils' lifespan in a natural environment is around six years. This creates a limited time for sexual reproduction, and reinforces the need for the insurance population that has been created through the work of Devil Ark.

Devil Ark began in 2011 with 44 founder Tasmanian devils.

They are just at the end of their fifth successful breeding season, with hopes of 320 devils by 2018.

"We've achieved our goals in only four years," Jennifer said.

However despite reaching their goal, misconceptions still lingers of many Australians' image of a Tasmanian Devil.

"One of the biggest misconceptions is the fear of the Tasmanian devil, the first being the negative connotations of its name," Jennifer said.

"One of the biggest misconceptions is the fear of the Tasmanian devil, the first being the negative connotations of its name,"

Jennifer Crowes campaign manager at Devil Ark

"And the second - the noises they make when eating or asserting their territory."

In regards to their devilish name, Jennifer asserts that this was a label they received in colonial Australia due to their scream-like noises.

"They are a carnivorous marsupial," explained Jennifer on their fierce tendencies with food.

"But they aren't going to attack.

"It's important to know they are scavengers and not hunters."

Jennifer believes each Tasmanian devil has its own personality as reflected in Devil Ark's ambassador joeys, sister and brother duo Diva and Levi.

DIVA THE DIVA: Campaign manager at Devil Ark Jennifer Crowes says each Tasmanian devil has its own personality including ambassador joey Diva, who loves the spotlight. Here Diva is held by Devil Ark manager Dean Reid.

DIVA THE DIVA: Campaign manager at Devil Ark Jennifer Crowes says each Tasmanian devil has its own personality including ambassador joey Diva, who loves the spotlight. Here Diva is held by Devil Ark manager Dean Reid.

"Diva is a diva - she loves the spotlight," said Jennifer on the joey's nature.

"Levi a bit of a naughty boy, and a lot more inquisitive than his sister."

These joeys are being hand-reared by Devil Ark manager Dean Reid.

"This will allow them to be handled, and lets them engage with the public," Jennifer said.

"That way people can fall in love with them too."

PEAK-A-BOO: Ambassdor joeys brother and sister duo Diva and Levi were introduced to the media world on Threatened Species Day.

PEAK-A-BOO: Ambassdor joeys brother and sister duo Diva and Levi were introduced to the media world on Threatened Species Day.

However the other devils living at Devil Ark run "as wild as they can" inside the hectares that offers Tasmanian-like climate conditions and vegetation.

To continue its work Devil Ark relies greatly on public donations.

It takes around $300,000 to run the entirety of Devil Ark a year, and around $2000 per devil.

Devil Ark's main supporter is the NSW Government Office of Environment and Heritage with some other corporate funding.

To support Devil Ark you can make donations via its website, or take part in one of its numerous fundraising initiatives like monthly tours that run for two and a half hours.

"If everyone in Australia gave just $1 we could help save a species."

"If everyone in Australia gave just $1 we could help save a species."

For more details visit  http://www.devilark.com.au/

To commemorate national Threatened Species Day, Devil Ark opened its doors to Manning River Times photographer Carl Muxlow.

The day commemorates the death of the last remaining Tasmanian tiger (also known as the thylacine) at Hobart Zoo in 1936.

Carl shot hundreds of photos and video footage of what he has called "...his best day at work ever."

SAY CHEESE: Manning River Times photographer Carl Muxlow got up-close to the Tasmanian devils at Devil Ark using his GoPro.

SAY CHEESE: Manning River Times photographer Carl Muxlow got up-close to the Tasmanian devils at Devil Ark using his GoPro.

This story A not so looney idea first appeared on Manning River Times.