Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

$492,000 to expand the Tasmanian devil insurance population

Joint media release
2 December 2010

Efforts to establish a healthy Tasmanian devil insurance population have been bolstered with $492,000 from the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Grants scheme.

Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke said funding had been provided through the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program to three wildlife parks in Tasmania and NSW.

"The insurance population provides one of the best possible chances to ensure the survival of this iconic species, which is facing a grave threat from the devil facial tumour disease," Mr Burke said.

"Vital to this program is the contribution of private wildlife parks and their passionate staff who play an important role in this project, alongside research institutions such as the University of Tasmania.

"This funding will help these wildlife parks to continue that work." The Tasmanian Devil Conservation Grants scheme was established by the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program and is administered by the Zoo and Aquarium Association's Wildlife Conservation Fund.

Funding of $350,000 will go to the Australian Reptile Park's 'Devil Ark' development at Barrington Tops in NSW.

And $105,000 and $37,000 respectively has been granted to two Tasmanian institutions; Trowunna Wildlife Park at Mole Creek, and Tasmania Zoo in Launceston.

Tasmanian Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage, David O'Byrne, said projects under this grant round would be completed by the end of 2011.

"The purpose of the grants is to increase the capacity and number of Australian institutions participating in the Insurance Population.

"This represents an exciting development in securing a long term insurance population of Tasmanian devils. The establishment of this grants scheme reflects the confidence the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program has in the zoo industry's commitment and ability to deliver great conservation outcomes through managed breeding programs such as the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program Insurance Population.

"Potential projects include: Free Range Enclosures, facilities to expand the insurance population capacity, and assistance to Tasmanian Wildlife Parks to become a part of the insurance population," Mr O'Byrne said.

Zoo and Aquarium Association's Executive Director, Martin Phillips said the Insurance Population is made up of healthy Tasmanian devils managed in zoos and wildlife parks across the country.

"Applicants had to demonstrate direct links with the objectives and goals of the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program Strategic Plan," Mr Phillips said.

"Evaluation criteria include that the project contribute to the goal of retention of 95% wild source gene diversity over 50 years or meeting an effective population size of 500."

The Australian and Tasmanian Governments have committed $25 million over five years to the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program to secure the long term viability of the species in the wild.

Further details about the grant program and other initiatives of the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program can be found at www.tassiedevil.com.au 

Background:

  • Devil Ark is an ambitious large scale project situated in the Barrington ranges in NSW. The first stage of this project will see a series of large pens built, each containing groups of 2-8 healthy Tasmanian devils for breeding. Work has commenced on the project in preparation for the arrival of the first group of devils in early December 2010.
  • Trowunna Wildlife Park's involvement will enable their Tasmanian devils to be incorporated into the Insurance Population, which is jointly managed by the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program and the Zoo and Aquarium Association.
  • Tasmania Zoo's Devil Conservation Breeding project will focus on increasing holding capacity and building extra breeding pens. This project will also bring valuable new animals currently held at Tasmania Zoo into the Insurance Population.