The Australian Reptile Park in Somersby has teamed up with the Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species (FAME) to develop the “Devil’s Ark” in a bid to boost the devil population.
A group of 48 devils is due to arrive at the facility in November and they hope for a captive bred population of 9000 devils by 2020.
The proposed ark will be established in about 350 hectares of bushland at Barrington Tops in the state’s north – a site donated by Ellerston Pty Ltd, a company owned by James Packer.
The black furred marsupials face extinction because of a rare transmissible cancer that causes tumours on their faces.
The tumours interfere with feeding, resulting in some affected animals starving to death.
If a cure is not found, the devils might become extinct within 25 to 30 years.
The ark project has been in the pipeline since 2006 but it’s yet to be approved by the Upper Hunter Valley Shire Council, which will consider a development application later this month.
If it gets the go-ahead, it will be one of the most ambitious endangered species breeding programs ever undertaken in Australia, Australian Reptile Park owner John Weigel said.
“I have stuck with the vision because we genuinely believe that if we don’t all rally together to do the work, the Tasmanian devil may be lost forever,” he said.
“Despite the continuing efforts of researchers, veterinarians and government agencies to find a solution, there remains little cause for optimism for the future of the devil.”
About 80 per cent of the Tasmanian population has been decimated by facial disease