Tasmanian Devil's Status Increasingly Troubling

Australian species continues its decline

12-01-2008 // Roger Di Silvestro

THE IUCN, a private conservation group that monitors species worldwide, recently elevated the status of the Tasmanian devil from a species of least concern to endangered. A fatal cancer—devil facial tumor disease—has cut the animal’s population by more than half in the past 10 years. The infectious cancer has been spreading through the species’ only homeland, the Australian island of Tasmania (see “Tasmania’s Devil of a Problem” in National Wildlife June/July 2008).

Of the world’s 5,487 recognized mammalian species, 1,139—more than 20 percent—fall into the IUCN’s imperiled categories.

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