Tasmanian Devil

Louisa Anne Meredith, 'Tasmanian Devil', 1880 (Tasmaniana Library, SLT)

The Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisi) provided bush dwellers with veal-like meat, but it was named by early settlers for its 'hideous appearance' and its attacks on flocks and poultry. Under the 1830 Van Diemen's Land Company bounty scheme, Devils commanded half the price of Thylacines. The Devil was initially listed on the 'wholly unprotected' schedule of the Animals and Birds Protection Act (1928). On 11 June 1941 it was gazetted as 'wholly protected' as it had 'disappeared from settled areas' and it was feared that if not protected it would 'meet the same fate as the thylacine'. The Parks and Wildlife Service, established in 1970, continues to monitor Devil numbers, and at the time of writing adult population numbers are declining due largely to disease.

Further reading: E Guiler, 'Observations on the Tasmanian Devil', Australian Journal of Zoology 18, 1970; R Green, 'Notes on the Devil', Records of the Queen Victoria Museum 27, 1967.

Rachel Hibberd