Help Us Save The Devil

Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) is a fatal and infectious form of cancer affecting the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii)—the world’s largest marsupial carnivore.

This extremely rare form of cancer—one of only three cancers known to spread like a contagious disease—is characterised by obvious facial tumours in affected devils. DFTD, which is thought to be transmitted by infected devils biting other devils, primarily affects adult animals and, once contracted, can spread quickly with devastating results. As the cancers develop and spread in infected animals, feeding and competing for food becomes progressively more difficult. Affected animals often die from starvation and the breakdown of their bodily functions within three to five months of infection.

DFTD was first detected in north-east Tasmania in the mid 1990s, and since that time, sightings of the Tasmanian devil in the wild have declined by more than 80 percent. Tragically, the north-east region has experienced a drop in sightings of around 95 percent. Due to this alarming rate of decline, the Tasmanian devil is now listed as an endangered species.

The Save the Tasmanian Devil Program is the Tasmanian government’s response to this significant threat to the devil’s survival. The program has a focus on breeding genetically viable animals, which are safely accommodated in a range of locations in order to establish an insurance population for the species. This breeding population of wild and captive-bread devils are carefully managed to ensure genetic diversity of the species, with the hope of one day safely releasing healthy devils back into the wild.

The Menzies Institute for Medical Research is conducting vital research into the immune system of the Tasmanian devil and the way in which it responds to the cancer. Led by Professor Greg Woods, this research is also focused on the potential for developing a vaccine against DFTD.

Through the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program, Saffire has partnered with Professor Woods in this critical effort to save the Tasmanian devil from extinction. As a key sponsor, Saffire is contributing significantly to the Menzies Research Institute’s quest to develop a vaccine for DFTD and secure the survival of this extraordinary marsupial.

We have created a one-hectare, free-range devil enclosure at Saffire to accommodate mature devils that have been part of the devil breeding program and whose genes are now well represented within the insurance population. This enclosure provides the devils with a safe, secure environment and high quality of life, while also freeing up space for more breeding devils within government facilities. In effect, the devil enclosure at Saffire is a luxury retirement home for devils who have played their part in helping to ensure the survival of their species.

The Saffire devil enclosure also has the added benefit of allowing Saffire guests the incredible opportunity to see Tasmanian devils in a natural setting and to contribute to the continuing effort to save this iconic species.

Click here to find out more about the Tasmanian Devil Experience.

Support the program - ' adopt '  one of our devils

Emerald Devil Saffire Freycinet Tasmania

Malcolm is a 5 year old male devil and is quite a bit larger than his brother, who is also at Saffire. He is a captive bred devil, and is now a retired film star, having been used for filming of a documentary on the release of devils onto Maria island recently. He has bred successfully in the past and is the proud dad of two daughters. He has quite a few battle scars on his rump these days, which is generally seen to be pretty attractive and prestigious in the devil world, as it means he has been successful with the ladies. When the male blocks the female in the den during mating, and she is ready to come out, she bites him on the backside to let her out! He is a larger male devil, with a bigger, broader head, usually typical of a male devil once he reaches around 3 years of age. He is very respectful of the female devils he shares the enclosure with as they are very dominant ladies! He and his brother are pretty good buddies still, and will share a den with each other, sometimes in a devil stack, one on top of the other.

Saffire Tasmanian Devil - Suzy

Suzy Smiles arrived at Saffire as a five year old. She is a captive bred devil from the Save The Tasmanian Devil Programme. She was born in a free range enclosure at Bridport in the north of Tasmania. From there she was moved over to the Bicheno free range enclosure on the east coast of Tasmania before eventually going to a Tasmanian wildlife park. Suzy is a timid female devil but is becoming more confident around feeding time and is standing up to the larger female devils to ensure she gets her own share. She is now more confident around people and occasionally can be seen basking in the sun during the day.

tassie devil Saffire Freycinet Tasmania

Confident in nature, Moinee is a female devil around 4 years of age. She is a captive bred devil and the smallest of our two females. She is rather special in that she carries a gene called an AC5 gene. This is an ancestral gene that is inherent in only a very small percentage of the total devil population, around less than 5%. This gene is responsible for giving these animals a little more genetic diversity which is important when it comes to combating Devil Facial Tumour Disease. She is already represented in the captive population however, as her sister was used to breed. Therefore Moinee was not required to.

tassie devil Saffire Freycinet

Weenie is a wild born devil and is 5 years of age. Her mother was trapped by researchers from Save the Tasmanian Devil program and it was discovered she had Devil Facial Tumour Disease. Weenie was hand-raised in a wildlife park and is a very confident girl. She has successfully bred twice in her life. At 2 years of age she produced 4 joeys, and at 3 years of age she produced another 4 joeys which is a great strike rate! She had 3 girls and 1 boy the first time around, and in the next year she had 3 boys and 1 girl. She is quite a large female devil and really gives the boys a hard time around feeding time. They have to work really hard stealing food from her. Extremely confident girl and a survivor to boot.

Saffire Freycinet save the devil

Lucy arrived at Saffire as a five year old devil, entering her sixth year. She is a captive bred devil from the Save the Tasmanian Devil Programme. She was born in a free range enclosure at Bridport, in the north of Tasmania. From there she moved over to the Bicheno free range enclosure on the east coast of Tasmania before eventually going to a Tasmanian wildlife park. Lucy is quite a timid female devil with a shy personality even though she is a little larger than the others. She is becoming more confident at feeding time and with her keepers however and can sometimes be seen basking on a sunny day.

Saffire Freycinet Save the devil

Freya is a four and a half year old female. She is a captive bred devil from the Save the Tasmanian Devil Programme. She was born in a free range enclosure at Bridport in the north of Tasmania. From there she moved over to the free range enclosure at Bicheno on Tasmania’s east coast before eventually going to a Tasmanian wildlife park. Freya is more exclusively nocturnal than the other devils currently and  prefers to be more active under cover of darkness. She is quite frequently captured on our enclosure’s remote sensor cameras. Freya has been successful birthing young and now this timid female devil will live out the rest of her life in Saffire’s large one hectare enclosure.