‘Once in a lifetime opportunity’, you hear that phrase thrown around all the time, but we are about to use it again …. yes, this was another of those once in a lifetime experiences that was truly amazing.
Devils@cradle is a wildlife conservation facility located in the world heritage wilderness area of Cradle Mountain, Tasmania. This great facility focuses on Tasmania’s three carnivorous marsupials, the Tasmanian Devil and the Eastern and Spotted-tail Quoll.
The sanctuary not only raises public awareness and much needed funds for these animals, but it forms part of a nation-wide captive breeding program for the Tasmanian Devil.
Their Field Monitoring Program collects data from within the Cradle Mountain area by use of remote cameras, road kill surveys, spotlight surveys and speaking with locals and visitors about their experiences and possible interactions.
The keepers at this facility are all very knowledgeable and passionate about the devils and are committed to ensuring the long-term survival of this unique species.
Both the Tasmanian Devil and the quoll are nocturnal creatures and quite shy and for this reason it’s actually quite uncommon to see one in the wild.
Tasmanian Devils are currently listed as a vulnerable species under the threatened species act. There are numerous issues impacting the long-term outlook for the Devils, but one of the more severe factors is Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD).
A lot of you will be aware of Devil Facial Tumour Disease, but for those of you who have not heard of this (particularly our overseas followers), this is a debilitating cancer which is so wide-spread that it’s affecting up to 50% of wild Tasmanian Devils. The disease is characterised by the development of ulcerated tumours which appear around the jaws and head of the devil. The disease is fatal and an affected devil will generally starve to death within 3-5 months.
DFTD is such a complex issue and there is no treatment or vaccine. It appears that each tumour that is found is identical, with the same genetic code, which means that environmental stimulants can be ruled out and these tumours are being transferred directly between the individual devils.
One reason for this could be inbreeding and lack of genetic diversity of the devil population and this is resulting in the tumours ‘transplanting’ from one devil to another. At this stage it is near impossible to control this and this is why places like ‘Devils @ Cradle’ are so important for the future preservation of this species.
One thing to keep in mind if visiting the sanctuary is to take a warm jacket! The day we visited it was summer and we had been in shorts and t-shirts all day, but by the time we reached the sanctuary (which is around 850m above sea level) it was absolutely freezing and our change of clothes and jackets we took with us were greatly appreciated!
The tour we took part in was called ‘Dine with the Devil’ and this was a chance to have an up close and personal interaction with the devils in a small group – in our case, it was a personal tour for just the two of us!
We were supplied with a beautiful platter of Tasmanian salmon, cheese and crackers, olives, dip, wine and beers.
After spending time watching these cute little guys playing we had the unforgettable experience of meeting one of the young devils up close and patting her.
After a walk around the sanctuary grounds and learning a little more about the devils and quolls, it was time to feed the hungry devils and roast some marshmallows around the campfire.
These devils may be small, but they are strong, you wouldn’t believe the weight pulling on that rope. We were stunned at just how quickly the devils devoured their meal aswell, all completely gone … fur, bones and all!
The tour ran for around 1 hour and we had a little extra time to watch the devils playing before and after the tour.
Information: You can choose from Day Keeper Tours, After Dark Feeding Tours and of course, the Dine with the Devil tour that we did.
Phone: 03 6492 1491
Address: 3950 Cradle Mountain Road, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
If you are interested in donating to this worthy cause, here is the link http://devilsatcradle.com/content.php?id=donations