Science | May 28, 2021 1:20 pm

Tasmanian Devils Born on Australian Mainland After 3,000 Years

An ambitious conservation project takes the next step

Tasmanian devil
A Tasmanian devil getting closer to nature.
Kunal Kalra/Unsplash

Last year, Australian scientists took a big step in reversing a bygone change to their ecosystem by bringing a number of Tasmanian devils to the mainland. They were the first such population in 3,000 years, after dingoes wiped out the devil population thousands of years ago. This was conducted for a few reasons, including keeping devils safe from a contagious face cancer plaguing the devil population in Tasmania and working on a way to keep the numbers of certain feral species low on the mainland.

Now, that population of transplanted devils have done what wild animals often do, and the result is another milestone — the first wild (or semi-wild) births of Tasmanian devils in mainland Australia in ages.

At The New York Times, Livia Albeck-Ripka has details on the births and thoughts on what future the baby devils might face. Currently, the Tasmanian devils reside in a 1,000-acre nature preserve; an intermediate step to see how they fare in a new (or, one could argue, an old) environment.

While the birth of these baby devils is cause for celebration, it’s one tempered with caveats — including the question of whether they will survive to adulthood. Tim Faulkner of the conservation group Aussie Ark told the Times that the initial goal was for this population of Tasmanian devils “to breed and survive, and they did.” It’s a small step that could be considered a landmark in the years to come.