After 3,000 years Tasmanian devils are back!

Devilishly hungry: Tasmanian devils can eat 40% of their body weight in a single day © Alamy

Should there be more wild animals in the world? Tasmanian devils once roamed the mainland of Australia. Now, after thousands of years on a neighbouring island, they are being reintroduced.

What’s happening

Rangers wait by the cages. On the count of three, they open the doors. One by one, the little brown animals appear. Some rush out to see their new home. Others walk out nervously.

It is a historic moment. It is the first time Tasmanian devils have been in Australia for at least 3,000 years.

Find out more

Tasmanian devils live in Tasmania – a small island that is part of Australia.

They once lived in Australia but became extinct there around 3,000 years ago. They died out for various reasons including climate change and hunting by humans.

The project to bring back the devils was organised by a sanctuary in an Australian National Park. They hope that their plan will strengthen the ecosystem.

About thirty animals have been sent into the wild. Each has been fitted with a GPS tag, which helps the team to keep track of the devils.

Rewilding has become a popular way to support the natural world. In Italy, officials are bringing back wild bears. In the UK, some people hope to do the same for wolves.

Should we bring back more wild animals?

Some say…

It’s too dangerous. Animals like wolves and bears used to live in the wild before there were so many humans and settlements. If we bring them back, they could come into our towns and cities. This would put both the animals and the humans in danger. The safest thing is to look after these once wild animals in wildlife parks and zoos.

Others think…

Yes! Animals are endangered because of our human activity. We should try our best to help them. If that means encouraging them back into the wild, then we should do it. To stay safe, we simply need clear rules and warnings about where dangerous animals are living. If it helps the environment to bring them back, we should do it.

You Decide

  1. Would you prefer to see animals in a wildlife park or have the chance of spotting them in the wild?

Activities

  1. In groups, find out about one wild animal that lives – or used to live – in your country. Present your discoveries to the rest of the class.

Some People Say...

“If we can teach people about wildlife, they will be touched. Share my wildlife with me. Because humans want to save things that they love.”

Steve Irwin, Australian wildlife expert

What do you think?

Word Watch

Rangers
People who look after a forest, park or area of countryside.
Historic
Important in history. A historic moment is something that will be remembered for a long time as a big event.
Tasmanian devils
A small animal in the same family as kangaroos.
Ecosystem
A community of living things, together with their environment. Scientists think that introducing the devils will help the ecosystem because they were once a natural part of it.
GPS tag
This stands for Global Positioning System. It is a way of finding where something is in the world, using satellites in space. A GPS tag is a tiny chip that uses this system as a tracker.
Rewilding
To turn an area of land back to its original use – before humans affected it. This means bringing back some animals that used to live there.
Wolves
Wolves used to be common in England and Wales, but by the 1700s none were left. This happened mainly because hunting them was a very popular sport.
Settlements
A place where people live. It can be a town, city or a tiny village or collection of houses.

Subjects

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