Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky Help Aussie Ark

Filed in Just In by October 5, 2020

DURING their visit to the Upper Hunter, Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky helped the Aussie Ark team release some of the first Tasmanian devils back into the wild at the Aussie Ark Barrington Top sanctuary. 

See photo gallery below

In 2011, Aussie Ark founded a Tasmanian devil breeding program and have since worked tirelessly to build an insurance population for the endangered species.

After starting with only 44 individuals, Aussie Ark has now raised more than 390 devils and have released 26 back into the the wild on mainland Australia, with another 40 planned for release over the next two years.

Prior to the breeding program, Tasmanian devils had been extinct on mainland Australia for more than 3,000 years, with only 25,000 devils currently left in Tasmania, due to the fatal Devil Facial Tumor Disease. 

Tim Faulkner, Aussie Ark president, said the reintroduction will also rebalance forest ecology after the devastating impacts of the eastern Australia fires this year, which burned more than 72,000 square miles of forest and claimed the lives of up to 3 billion animals. 

“In 100 years, we are going to be looking back at this day as the day that set in motion the ecological restoration of an entire country,” Mr Faulkner said.

“Not only is this the reintroduction of one of Australia’s beloved animals, but of an animal that will engineer the entire environment around it, restoring and rebalancing our forest ecology after centuries of devastation from introduced foxes and cats and other invasive predators,” he said.

“Because of this reintroduction and all of the hard work leading up to it, someday we will see Tasmanian devils living throughout the great eastern forests as they did 3,000 years ago,” he said.

“The fires earlier this year were absolutely devastating and threatened to rob us of our hope…this is our response to that threat of despair, come what may, ultimately we will not be deterred in our efforts to put an end to extinction and to re-wild Australia,” said Mr Faulkner .

To restore natural balance, Aussie Ark plans to reintroduce seven cornerstone species critical to Australia’s ecosystem including Tasmanian devils, Eastern quolls, Brush-tail rock wallabies, Rufous bettong, long-nosed potoroo, parma wallabies and southern brown bandicoots.

Aussie Ark selected particular devils for reintroduction to avoid inbreeding and will monitor the devils regularly via radio collars and camera traps.

Information gathered will assist researchers with future releases, by telling them what challenges the devils are facing, what they are eating, what territory they are claiming and if they are reproducing.

The sanctuary will protect the devils from disease, feral pests, noxious weeds and fire and will also keep cars out to ensure the devils do not learn to associate cars with food. 

Don Church, president of Aussie Ark partner, the Global Wildlife Conservation, said the reintroduction is an incredible example of how to re-wild the planet.

“Without Aussie Ark’s incredible work and perseverance over all of these years, the recent devil reintroduction would not have been possible and instead of looking forward to the recovery of the species, we would be watching the devil slip into extinction,” Mr Church said.

Mark Hutchison, co-founder of WildArk said the reintroduction is a “game changer” and the organisation is proud to be partnered with Aussie Ark.

“The re-introduction of devils to mainland Australia is a game-changer for conservation in this country, not only building a robust, genetically healthy population outside of Tasmania, but also paving the way for future introductions that the Aussie Ark team are already mapping out,” Mark Hutchinson said.

“Having partnered with Aussie Ark and GWC on the Koala Comeback Campaign after the bushfires this year, we’ve witnessed first-hand their commitment to ecological restoration in Eastern Australia and we couldn’t be prouder to now support the Devil Comeback,” he said.

“The groundwork is being laid for a broad, nationwide effort to re-wild Australia and help our little critters find their niche again,” he said.

Aussie Ark are inviting kids aged five and ten to send digital postcards to any of the following four Tasmanian devils; adventurous Lisa, timid Lenny, hangry Skittles or sassy Jacksen.

Kids from around the world are able to participate online and thirty of the most creative postcards will be chosen to be published in an e-book.

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