Thursday, April 12, 2007
Tasmanian Devils Extinction
CANBERRA, Australia - Tasmanian devils - the marsupial made famous as a snarling cartoon character named Taz - are being relocated to an island off Australia to avert their extinction by a contagious cancer. Some scientists fear the move could endanger rare birds and other animals on the island, but other experts say it is a last resort and should pose no problem since the devils are scavengers, not predators.
”The path to extinction is looking pretty certain on Tasmania,” said William Karesh of the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, who organized a workshop in Australia to help the government and biologists develop a plan to save the devils.
The fox-like animals with powerful jaws and a bloodcurdling growl - made famous by their Looney Toons namesake - are being wiped out on the island state of Tasmania by a contagious cancer that creates grotesque facial tumors. The disease was first noticed in the mid-1990s in the state’s northeast, where 90 percent of the devils have since perished. It is spreading south and west, and scientists estimate that within five years, there will be no disease-free population in Tasmania _ the only place in the world where the devils exist outside zoos.
”I think there’s a real risk of extinction within 20 years across the whole of Tasmania,” said Hamish McCallum, a professor of wildlife research at the University of Tasmania.
I found this to be very intresting. Extinction of animals have came an intrest of mine since my Ecology class and the Wildlife classes they have us taking.