Rewilding Australia, one devil at a time
Aussie Ark is undertaking a mammoth project to return native wildlife to its wild places
Over millions of years, Australian animals have evolved on the isolated continent into the unique creatures we know today: platypuses, kangaroos, koalas and Tasmanian devils.
Since the arrival of Europeans, Australia has been under attack. Early settlers introduced a menagerie of invasive species that have threatened the local wildlife and led to the highest rate of mammal extinction in the world.
During the 2019–2020 wildfire season, Australia was hit with one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history. With nearly three billion animals dead and an area larger than the size of England up in smoke, it threatened many of the continent's iconic creatures with extinction.
But devoted people and organizations, like Aussie Ark, are working diligently to save what's left and rewild the continent with native species.
At a secure breeding facility in Barrington Tops National Park in New South Wales, conservationists check eastern quolls and Tasmanian devils for precious cargo: their baby joeys. The marsupial predators are native to Australia and key to the ecosystem. Tasmanian devils have not lived wild on the mainland in 3,000 years, while quolls were declared extinct there in 1963. Both species could only be found on the island of Tasmania, where they managed to hold on.
Aussie Ark, in collaboration with other conservation organizations, has been breeding devils and quolls in hopes of re-establishing them on Australia's mainland. The team has had success in reintroducing 28 quolls and 26 devils and has plans to release many more in the coming years.
It's a massive undertaking, but the program is giving hope for the future of Australia's wildlife. Watch the video above for the full story.
Watch Wild Australia: After the Fires on The Nature of Things.