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Why Is The Tasmanian Devil In Danger Of Dying Out?

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Kath Senior answered
  The Tasmanian devil lives only on the island of Tasmania, south of mainland Australia. It occurs throughout the island, except in places where the vegetation cover has been extensively cleared. The Tasmanian devil was once very rare, owing to disease, habitat destruction and extermination by settlers. In the early 1900's it came near to extinction, it then recovered, but is now in danger again because of a deadly facial cancer that is spreading through the current population.

  This was first noticed in the 1990s, as Tasmanian devils were seen with large open sores on their faces. Hundreds of thousands of the animals have died since then and people on Tasmania are taking desparate measures to save them. Health stock have been captured and taken to an isolated island, where they can't come into contact with affected devils, in the hope they might breed and established a disease free population.

  The cancer seems to be infectious, but is not caused by a virus. The cancer cells themselves seem to pass from one animal to another.

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