Interlinked strategies for Insurance Population
A series of interlinked conservation activities to build on the Save
the Tasmanian Devil Program’s Insurance Strategy were proposed by an
international workshop held in Hobart in July, 2008.
The Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) was flown in from
the US by the Taronga Conservation Society to facilitate the workshop,
which used the collective knowledge of scientists, habitat managers,
researchers, wildlife agencies, universities, zoos, traditional land
managers, and State and Federal Governments to further develop the
insurance population strategy in place for the program.
"Our aim has been to develop strategies on top of those already in
place that will ensure the survival of the Tasmanian devil in the wild
through building on ‘insurance’ populations to protect them from the
disease," said Dr Onnie Byers, CBSG executive director.
"This has been a particularly complex process in that our computer
modelling is predicting that there is no single action that may save
Tasmanian devils, therefore a range of targeted conservation activities
"This group of experts has devised a series of interlinking programs
that can be implemented simultaneously to protect devils in their wild
habitats and also preserve the genetic diversity of the species."
The workshop was hosted by the Tasmanian Department of Primary
Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE), and funded by the
Taronga Conservation Society Australia.
"Through the CBSG process, we’ve assessed a combination of solutions,
from zoo-based ‘insurance’ breeding programs on the mainland and away
from the disease, to large protected areas where devils can be managed
to maintain their genetic health," said Dr Rebecca Spindler, the head of
Taronga’s conservation and research.
"We’ve also looked at the possibility of fencing or allocating areas
where disease-free wild populations can be protected.
"These comprehensive, linked plans have been formulated to guide
immediate action for devils and will now be presented to the Tasmanian
State and Federal governments for their endorsement."
It is only the second time this conservation planning process has
been used in Australia. The first, a success, was for the Striped
CBSG has an impressive track record and has coordinated plans for the
recovery of the critically endangered Red Wolf in the US and Tree
Kangaroo in Papua New Guinea.