Skip to main content

MICROCHIPS AUSTRALIA HELPING TO SAVE THE TASMANIAN DEVIL !

Trovan is Helping to Save the Tasmanian Devil


 

The threat to the Tasmanian Devil due to Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) continues to spread through wild populations in Tasmania. In some areas more than 90% of the Tasmanian Devil population has been wiped out. DFTD is a fatal condition in Tasmanian devils, characterised by progressive cancers around the head and neck. It is an extremely unusual disease, one of only four known naturally occurring transmissible cancers. It is transmitted like a contagious disease between individuals through biting and other close contact. Animals usually die within a few months of the cancer becoming visible.

 

 

The Tasmanian and Australian Governments introduced the Save the Tasmanian Devil program over 3 years ago and the Program has a number of key objectives, including to:

  • Maintain a Tasmanian devil population in the wild through managing the impact of devil facial tumour disease and minimising the impact of other threats
  • Maintain the current genetic diversity of the Tasmanian devil
  • Establish a sustainable disease-free insurance population for possible future release into the wild
  • Manage the ecological impacts of a reduced Tasmanian devil population over its natural range

 

As part of establishing a disease-free “insurance” population, tumour-free Devils have been introduced to Maria Island off the south-east coast of Tasmania. This has been successful with introduced numbers more than doubling to over 90 animals now on the island. The island is very large (over 115 square kilometres or 45 square miles) and so the challenge was how to monitor these populations. Microchips Australia aided by Dorset ID using Trovan monitoring equipment has provided the solution. Several remote monitoring units comprising LID650 decoder/dataloggers with ANTSQR400 (400mm square antennas) – some fitted with GPRS modems to transfer read data to researchers based in Hobart on mainland Tasmania as well as one LID608 decoder/datalogger with ANTSQR400 antenna and weigh scale integration were installed over 3 VERY cold days and nights in some quite remote areas of the island by Microchips Australia staff Varun Uthappa and Doug Black and Save the Tasmanian Devil program member Bill Brown.

 

Fig. 1 - Varun and Bill installing one of the remote units

 

Fig. 2 - A completed LID650/ANTSQR400 unit with solar panel for recharging 12V battery

 

Fig 3. - A curious visitor to our base camp grabs a tasty treat

 

Fig 4. - Completing installation of one of the units on the southern end of Maria Island

 

Fig. 5 - Completed LID608/ANTSQR400 with weigh scale and solar panel

 

After installation the units were quickly successful in recording visits by Devils – one as quickly as 15 minutes after we left the site!

The Trovan remote monitoring units will provide vital population information for the Save the Tasmanian Devil program and together hopefully we can save this iconic species!