Tasmanian Devil

young Tasmanian Devil in captivity

A little devil, raised in captivity. In fact, these days it might be the only chance for the species to survive. For one time it is probably not due to direct human behaviour, possibly not even indirect. The direct reason is the Devil Facial Tumor Disease that rapidly spreads amongst the population and may extinguish it soon. There is no cure nor vaccination found yet. And even if - how should one heal animals in the wild? So for now, the only choice is to take away the offspring from infected mothers, then raise the young and start breeding them in isolation.

The reason why the disease could spread so quickly is found in their genes. All individuals have pretty much the same genom, it's variation is extremely little. So the immune system does not detect the germs as foreign cells and does not do a thing against them. Maybe the reason for that is human persecution that occured sometimes for their devilish behaviour and the suspect they may hunt for sheep. (Something they probably do not do as they prefer carrions.) But recent research about the closely related Tasmanian Tiger revealed even they had an inbreed problem since long. The individuals may not need to suffer, the population definetely does. Infections find the same conditions in any other body so they can perfectly adapt and spread. So maybe for one time we humans are innocent about the drama. Still, we should do what we can to preserve one species - while having wiped out hundreds before.

Tasmanian Devil attacking a mob cuddle the devil to hell with the sock! Tasmania devil flat out Portrait of a devil
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by IKO