The Tasmanian devils suffer from what is known as the Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD), an infectious cancer that can now be found across 70% of Tasmania. This disease is a cancer killing Tasmanian devils in the wild at an alarming rate.
Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors support an appeal known as Black and White week, which raises funds for Tasmanian Devil conservation.
DFTD is unique, being only one of three cancers that can spread like a contagious disease. Under normal circumstances, cancer cannot be 'caught', however DFTD is the exception to this rule, making the research and science into finding a cure incredibly difficult. DFTD is highly contagious and is spread when a diseased devil bites a healthy devil.
DFTD only affects the Tasmanian devil, and is characterised by large tumours which appear mainly on the face and neck. Once these tumours are visible, there is a certainty that the Tasmanian devil will suffer a long painful death due to starvation.
The Tasmanian devil is now listed as Endangered under Tasmania's Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 and recently has been given the same classification on the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species. This listing reflects the need to do everything in our power to save this iconic species from extinction in the wild, which experts say could happen within 10-20 years if nothing changes.
But there is hope. Of the numerous organisations striving to save the Tasmanian devil from a fate like that of the extinct Tasmanian tiger (which was last sighted in the wild in 1933), Black and White week is an appeal thought up by a young boy called Nature Nic, and his campaign has been extremely successful at raising funds.
More information about Black and White Day can be found at www.wildlifewarriors.org.au