The Tasmanian devil has been battered for the past 30 years. More specifically, it is caused by a contagious form of cancer called DFT, or devil’s face tumor. Many attempts have been made to conserve the species. But now it seems that one of them has cost the lives of thousands of penguins.
It was a recent report from BirdLife Tasmania that shed light on this natural disaster. The healthy Tasmanian devils have been isolated on Mayra Island, a small island located east of Tasmania. A successful way to provide healthy populations with a safe shelter away from infectious diseases. However, that island was actually a sanctuary for another animal, the world’s smallest penguin, Oedpetola minor. This is a bird that lives and breeds on land in certain areas of Australia and New Zealand, and its small stature makes it easy prey for its new neighbors.
The result was a disaster. The total bird population of about 6000 birds has been completely eliminated. A big blow to the national park, which in principle should have been a safe habitat for three thousand pairs of penguins. According to a recent survey by BirdLife Tasmania, the penguins have completely disappeared. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened in Australia and New Zealand. In 1837, possums were deliberately introduced to New Zealand in hopes of establishing a fur trade. However, it turned out that this is not an enrichment of biodiversity, but a fierce competition for the famous kiwis and small penguins. A battle over the ownership of the underground caves broke out.
And it’s not just penguins that suffer from Tasmanian devils. There are also reports of geese nesting in trees to avoid predators. The catastrophic environmental impact of man-made Tasmanian devils on the avian fauna of Maria Island is clear.
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