The Tasmanian devil, not the beloved childhood cartoon but real life animal is declinging in population number.
According to a study published by the Journal of Applied Ecology, are facing extinction due to a very rare disease called Devil facial tumour disease (DFTD).
Cancer is the disese found in this species, which is spread by biting, thus causing tumours on the face to appear or inside the mouth of affected Tasmanian devils. DFT1 was first observed in the 1990s in north east Tasmania.
The DFTD epidemic has subsequently spread throughout most of Tasmania, and currently only areas of western and northwestern Tasmania are confirmed to have remained disease-free.
According to Doctor Billie Lazenby: “Populations have decreased by about 80 percent following the emergence of DFTD”.
However, even with this transmissible cancer spreading, the devil still roams the wild in Tasmania.
The problem now is that the group has become very isolated and hard to locate, making preservation attempts near-on impossible. Remaining wild populations are showing slight reproductive changes, possibly in response to the challenges posed by the disease.
Although Tasmanian devils are reproductively shifting, allowing the population of this species to maintain, the overall reduction may indicate that they are at greater risk of extinction due to other environmental factors.
With the change in their age structure, there are a lot more younger Tasmanian Devils, which are more likely to be caught in wild bush fires and become roadkill.
Efforts have been made to help the Tasmanian Devils survival, like developments in immunotherapy.
However, more research needs to be carried out to save them from extinction.