Saturday, 12 May 2007

Lair of the meat-lover

Lair of the meat-lover
Tasmanian Devils are an often-overlooked species of Australian wildlife. Devils are short, pudgy and not a little cantankerous, lacking the mystique of its 'extinct' cousin and the wow factor of cuter national icons such as the koala and kangaroo.

The Devil, or Sarcophilus (literally "meat-lover") is the garbage man of the bush, hoovering up the remains (commonly bones and all) of deceased animals.

CFZ heard a tale from one bushie of a rescue party searching for a presumed dead bushwalker in Tasmania - all they ended up finding was his wristwatch and a half-chewed leather shoe!

Although presumed extinct on the mainland, there have been several documented sightings of devils and several corpses found in New South Wales and Victoria so it seems unlikely that they are completely gone, though one presumes their numbers would no doubt be small.

Like the eastern quoll, the mainland Devil seems to be clinging to existence - just. Could many of the five-toed prints (see picture) that we occasionally find belong to this tenacious survivor? Let's hope so.
CFZ credit: Ruby Lang

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