Tasmanian Devils are taking the next step in a “rewilding” project that could someday bring the species back to the Australian mainland for the first time in about 3,000 years.
Actor Chris Hemsworth and his wife helped release 11 into a predator-free sanctuary north of Sydney alongside conservationists. This makes nearly 30 animals in this protected space this year.
Hemsworth is from Australia.
Scientists will now use tracking devices and cameras to monitor how the animals do and whether they can be released into a wild environment eventually.
The project is being called #DevilComeback.
Tasmanian Devils were once found in Australia, but are now only found in the wild on the island of Tasmania.
According to the preservation group Aussie Ark, the animals went extinct in Australia about 3,000 years ago due to being hunted by the Dingo. There are no Dingos in Tasmania, and the Tasmanian Devil is the island’s top predator.
However, in 1996, scientists detected an infectious cancer affecting the Tasmanian Devil population. Roughly 90 percent of the population has died as the disease spread rapidly, according to Aussie Ark.
Since then, Aussie Ark has created a breeding center for the animals. The 30 animals being released in the latest project came from this center.
Tasmanian Devils prefer open forests and woodlands, and are more scavengers than hunters. They have a short life span, 5-to-6 years in the wild and about 8 years in captivity.