Tasmanian Devil

Biodiversity’s Balancing Act in Australia

A healthy ecosystem–one that supports all life–depends on the presence of wildlife species that play different unique roles, from predators that keep populations of their prey (and invasive species) in check to herbivores that eat seeds and plant them throughout the forest. Global Wildlife Conservation, in partnership with Aussie Ark, is working to restore that balance to the Australian wilderness by returning keystone species back to the wild.

Australia—and its accompanying island of Tasmania—are home to some of the most unusual and threatened wildlife on the planet, including in the rainforests in the mountains of New South Wales. The Gondwana Rainforest and Barrington Tops National Park are listed as World Heritage sites, thanks to their astonishing biodiversity and unique native species.

These forests are home to dozens of endangered species, many found nowhere else on the planet. In addition to the largest subtropical rainforests in the world, Australia boasts more species of animals than any other developed nation, as well as the majority of the world’s marsupials. Tasmania and Australia harbor the only living carnivorous marsupials on the planet, including the infamous Tasmanian Devil.

In addition to Taz, Eastern Quolls, Brush-tailed and Rufous Bettongs, Southern Brown Bandicoots, Long-nosed Potorros, Parma Wallabies, and other wonderfully weird creatures are all residents of this area—or once were.

Animals native to Australia


Top photo by: David Stowe Photography

Wild Facts
Australia has the highest rate of mammalian extinctions on Earth.
Eleven Australian mammals, reptiles or birds are killed by feral cats every second of every day.
Aussie Ark’s sanctuaries protect 388+ species of animals.

Action Amidst Australia’s Extinction Crisis

While Australia is home to a variety of species, it also has the unfortunate distinction of holding the worst mammal extinction rate on Earth – at least 10% of Australia’s mammal species have gone extinct since European colonization primarily due to invasive predators that threaten native wildlife. To put this in a global context, one out of three mammal extinctions in the last 400 years have occurred in Australia. And, without swift conservation action. an additional 21% of species are predicted to go extinct at a rate of 1 to 2 species per decade.


Protecting Australia and Tasmania’s Biodiversity

In 2011, Global Wildlife Conservation partner Devil Ark established a state-of-the-ark conservation facility next to the Barrington Tops National Park in New South Wales to breed Tasmanian Devils. On Tasmania, Devils have been reduced to only 10% of their original population size, due both to habitat degradation and a highly contagious cancer, Devil Facial Tumour Disease.

Researchers have determined that Tasmanian Devils—once widespread in southern Australia—could help reestablish historically functional ecosystems by fulfilling their role as an apex predator and potentially reducing the numbers of invasive foxes and cats that are threatening other species.

Establishing a mainland population of Tasmanian Devils also keeps some of the population free of the Devil Facial Tumour Disease, and provides a refuge from which to rebuild future populations.

Since its inception, Devil Ark has overseen the birth of more than 300 Tasmanian Devil joeys; making it the largest, most successful, and most economical conservation breeding program for the Endangered Tasmanian Devil.

Devil Ark began adding other species to its roster; specifically six other endangered mammals that could potentially help restore the ecosystem, and that benefited from the Ark’s advanced, large “exclosures” that exclude feral pests while allowing mammals room to roam and breed as they would in the wild.

Transitioning from the “Devil Ark” to the “Aussie Ark,” Global Wildlife Conservation and Aussie Ark hope to conserve Australia’s biodiversity by reintroducing species, such as the Tasmanian Devil, Eastern Quoll and bolstering populations of other mammals. Simultaneously working to suppress invasive predators and invasive plants, these species have the potential to help Australian ecosystems recover and to moderate the devastating fires the landscape has faced in recent years.

Tasmanian Devil Release with Adrian Grenier

GWC Chief Scientist and CEO Wes Sechrest releases a Tasmanian devil with Hollywood actor and Lonely Whale co-founder Adrian Grenier (Photo: David Stowe Photography)


Transforming  Devil Ark into Aussie Ark, GWC is helping our conservation partners bolster and protect populations of native Australian species. We work to protect native species from harmful invasives and to re-wild and improve the health of precious World Heritage ecosystems.

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Keep the Invasives Out

We hope to install feral pest-proof fencing around the new 1,200-hectare sanctuary in the Barrington Tops to protect more than 1,500 individuals of threatened Australian mammal species. The fencing’s material and sturdy design will last more than 20 years and can safely support at least nine generations of Aussie Ark target species.

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Rewild Australia

The protected populations of endemic mammals in the Aussie Ark will allow the species to return from local extinction by reintroducing healthy and successful individuals into their wild habitat. Reintroducing species will help balance local ecosystems and make them more resilient against threats like invasive predators and wildfires.

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Boost Public Awareness

Australia’s tourism sector has done an excellent job of positioning the image of Australia as an untrammeled wilderness. That perception has distracted from the unfortunate truth that much of Australia’s unique, endemic, and awe-inspiring wildlife is under threat from habitat degradation, invasive species, climate change, and other threats. GWC and Aussie Ark will undertake a public education campaign to raise public awareness about the plight of Australian fauna and flora.

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Australia and Tasmania

Aussie Ark

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