Saturday, January 29, 2011

After ten days the Devil Ark 'pioneer' devils have well and truly settled in, with regular detection from camera traps throughout the facility, including feeding stations.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

‘D’ Day (Devil Day) has arrived!

An important milestone for Devil Ark - and indeed Australian wildlife conservation in general was achieved today with the release of the first 30 ‘founder’ Tasmanian devils into their new homes at Barrington Tops. This was not an official ‘opening’ for the Ark (that is still coming), but it certainly was a red-letter date, marking the material conversion of a big and radical idea into an operational and practical solution to the challenge of averting the extinction of the Tasmanian devil. The event provided an opportunity for many of the special people and organisations who have contributed to the success of the program to participate in the fun part – the introduction of the devils into the first six Devil Ark enclosures. This proved to be a highly inspirational and emotion-charged experience for most – and an unforgettable experience for all. About half of the devils had flown in from the quarantine facilities of the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program in Tasmania, the other coming from the much closer facilities of the Australian Reptile Park, being second and third generation progeny of the highly successful ‘intensive’ breeding facility.

Tim Faulkner and Obi Gabriel (background) release two of the Tasmanian devils for the benefit of attending media. The two devils pictured are only 21 months old, and have another year of growth and development before breeding is likely.

It's been a long road for Tim Faulkner, General Curator of the Australian Reptile Park and recognised mainland authority on Tassie devil breeding. Tim and his young family have resided at the adjacent residence during the entire Phase 1 construction period, and will continue on until the Devil Ark team is confident about the processes involved in maintaining and breeding the all-important first-wave of founder animals for the project.

A big day for a lot of Devil Ark contributors. Left to right: John Weigel from Australian Reptile Park; Lee Watts - Mayor of Upper Hunter Shire Council; Liz Gabriel from Australian Reptile Park with 'Scratchy'; Cheryl Hill, Michael Willson and Chris Chapman from Foundation for Australia's Most Endangered Species (FAME).  All have done great work, though we expect a bit more dedicated effort from Scratchy, from this point onwards.

Now begins the next stage of the project, the development of a fundraising campaign to enable the continued development of this important project.