The luckless Tasmanian devil is to be added to the official list of endangered species in a move intended to save it from extinction, The Times reports.
Tasmania's top carnivore since the human-assisted wipeout of the thylacine in the 1930s is under severe threat from a communicable face cancer, unique to the species. Australian environment minister Peter Garrett said that the official 'endangered' stamp will give the beasts a better chance, as it affords greater protection under national environment law.
The devil population has dived by 70 per cent* since the first emergence of the grotesque inbreeding-augmented cancer 13 years ago.
Efforts are being made to curtail the spread of the cancer, but lack of funding and somewhat of a paucity of give-a-damn from the Tasmanian government together with the extraordinary efficiency of the disease have hampered progress. $10m Australian dollars (£5m) over five years has been thrown at the problem, and insurance breeding programs are ongoing to preserve a healthy population.
It is feared the marsupial carnivore may be extinct within 25 years, leaving foxes, feral cats and stray dogs to scrap over the mantle of food chain supremo. That is unless the planned gorilla introduction program comes to fruition.**
Keep it Reg for your continuing obscure emperilled fighty creature health updates. ®
*Far be it from us to snipe at the errors of other outlets, but we must take issue with the insistence of the Times that the population has been 'decimated'. Because strictly speaking, it hasn't. Anyone who can correctly express the percentage decline in a single word will win a wallaby.
**Our sources say this is in fact highly unlikely.