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The survival of the Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrissi) is currently under threat from a serious fatal infectious cancer. This information is taken from the DPIPWE website

What is a Tasmanian Devil?Edit

The world's largest surviving carnivorous marsupial, the devil has a thick-set, squat build, with a relatively large, broad head and short, thick tail. The fur is mostly or wholly black, but white markings often occur on the rump and chest. Body size also varies greatly, depending on the diet and habitat. Adult males are usually larger than adult females. Large males weigh up to 12 kg, and stand about 30 cm high at the shoulder.

What is Devil Facial Tumour Disease?Edit

DFTD describes a horrific and fatal condition in Tasmanian devils which is characterised by the appearance of facial cancers. The tumours or cancers are first noticed in and around the mouth as small lesions or lumps. These develop into large tumours around the face and neck and sometimes even in other parts of the body.

DFTD is extremely unusual as it is only one of three recorded cancers that can spread like a contagious disease. The cancer is passed from devil to devil through biting. The live tumour cells aren’t rejected by their immune system because of a lack of genetic diversity among Tasmanian devils.

DFTD affects mainly adults - males seem to be the first affected, then females - although juveniles as young as one can also be infected. When the disease is advanced Tasmanian devils may have many cancers throughout the body.

Infected devils may become emaciated if the tumours interfere with teeth and feeding. Many females lose their young. Infected animals die within months of the lesions first appearing. | colspan="2" width="33%"| |}

What effect is DFTD having on Tasmanian devil populations?Edit

DFTD was first noticed in 1996 in the north-east of Tasmania. By February 2010 the disease had spread across more than 60% of the State, moving at a rate of seven to 20km per year, depending on the habitat of the region.

There has been an 80% decline in average sightings across Tasmania since the disease emerged. In the north-east region, 'ground zero', there has been an estimated 95% decline of average spotlighting sightings.

The proportion of animals displaying signs of the disease at any one site has reached up to 83% of trapped adults. Such populations are not viable in the long term.

New cases continue to occur in areas where the disease had not previously been recorded as the disease front moves westwards. To date, no cases of DFTD have been confirmed west of the Murchison Highway, which roughly runs between Burnie and Queenstown.

At February 2010, populations in the western third of the State appear to have remained healthy and viable.

There is strong concern that, if the devil population continues to diminish while fox numbers increase, it may be difficult for the devils to ever recover.

Volunteering to help save the Tasmanian DevilEdit

Volunteers are vital to achieving our goal of saving the Tasmanian devil.

University students, retirees, animal lovers and dedicated locals are among the hundreds of volunteers who have given their time and energy to the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program. You don’t need any qualifications. There are just a few requirements regarding health and mobility to consider.

Volunteers from as far away as the USA, Asia and Europe have worked alongside enthusiastic locals. Some stay for a few weeks – others remain dedicated for years.

See Tasmania’s wild natural beauty, actively help Tasmanian wildlife, and grow as a person.

Volunteer TasksEdit

Our wildlife management tasks fit into the broad categories of: • field monitoring • disease suppression.

A typical survey lasts approximately 11 - 12 days. While team leaders trap and release Tasmanian devils, volunteers assist with duties such as scrubbing and cleaning traps and scribing.

The days can be long, the weather unpredictable and the mobile phone coverage will be limited or non-existent. You will, however, four-wheel drive into breathtakingly beautiful places that very few people get to see.


Volunteering for Field MonitoringEdit

You will work on beautiful farming properties on the northwest coast and near Mt Field National Park, selective forestry areas across the State and Mt William National Park (on the north-east tip of the State).


Volunteering for Disease SuppressionEdit

Disease suppression trials are ongoing on the Forestier-Tasman Peninsulas. These trips cover many different locations across peninsulas famous for their natural beauty. You may want to schedule time to visit world renowned heritage sites such as Port Arthur and Eaglehawk Neck while you are in the area.



Wages: not included

Travel: not included

Food: usually included

Accommodation: usually included

How do I volunteer?Edit


Further informationEdit


Testimonials and advice from former volunteersEdit


Tasmanian devils need your help! Edit

Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) is a fatal condition that is currently affecting most populations of Tassie devils.
The University of Tasmania 's School of Zoology is undertaking several research projects.

We need your help in the field !


• Live Trapping • Remote cameras • Field Data scribing

Choose from two projects - both provide accommodation, food, transport and parks & wildlife passes.

Ecosystem impacts of Tasmanian devil decline.

(Tracey Hollings) This project is looking at how a reduced density of devils is impacting on other species and the Tasmanian ecosystem as a whole.

The fieldwork involved in this project is all non-invasive. Camera traps, hair tubes and feeding apparatus are deployed at field sites throughout the state. You will be assisting in setting up the equipment and deploying it in the field.

Project :
Live Trapping - West Pencil Pine

(Rodrigo Hamede) [ ]Live trapping involves setting up forty traps in a 25sq km area during ten days. During this time we will undertake a capture-mark-recapture study in which animals will be examined for DFTD symptoms, health condition assessment, and estimation of sex and age. All individuals will be micro chipped and a small biopsy sample will be taken for genetic analysis. In addition, we will take a blood sample for every captured individual. These samples will be processed (extraction of serum) on a daily basis.Volunteers will be asked to sterilize, bait and set up devil traps, help to check them and scribe data. During our field work we need to take as much information as possible when examining devils, so you will be asked to fill different field data sheets and assist with related aspects of the fieldwork, such as keeping records of samples, preparing biopsies, microchips and blood sampling material.

Fieldwork will be undertaken at West Pencil Pine, a devil population in the surrounding areas of Cradle Mountain National Park .

Tracey Hollings

Various parts of the state Schedule 2010- 2011

Trips range from between 7 and 14 days depending on where in the state the sites are located and you would need to be available for the entire trip.
Trips are going from early September 2010 to April 2011.

information: contact Tracey Hollings (office: ph 62261928)

updated 6/2/11

Rodrigo Hamede

West Pencil Pine Schedule 2010

February 22nd to Mar 5th
May 10th to May 21st.
August 23rd to September 3rd
November 15th to 26th
Schedule for 2011
February 14th to 25th
May (to be announced)
August (to be announced)
November (to be announced)

information: contact Rodrigo Hamede (mobile: 0428394626 or office: 62261928)

updated 6/2/11


Volunteer form (pdf)
Nominated Contact sheet(.pdf)
TUFSS UTas Field Safety System
Zoology student -Resources page
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