From the safety of captivity to the remote Tasmanian wilderness, 15 Tasmanian devils set off on an extraordinary adventure to save their species from extinction and change the course of Australian wildlife history.
A loveable marsupial with serious attitude, the Tasmanian devil is fighting for its survival. A devastating cancer epidemic threatens to wipe out the species with 80 per cent of the wild population killed by a highly contagious facial cancer, which first appeared in 1996.
The very real prospect of losing the species to Devil Facial Tumour Disease has mobilised the world’s scientific community.
At the Save The Tasmanian Devil Program headquarters in Hobart, wildlife vet Sarah Peck, Phil Wise and their team have hatched an audacious plan to create an “insurance” population of disease-free devils. Elsewhere, a crack team of scientists and zoologists are testing Tasmanian devils to see which ones have what it takes to survive in the wild.
Hope rests on a handful of disease free devils raised in captivity. Their mission: leave their safe surroundings to train in an elite squad before moving to an isolated island off the coast of Tasmania and a new life in the wild.
Filmed by renowned wildlife cinematographer David Parer, directed by Andrew Sully, and produced by Sally Ingleton, the 6-part documentary series Devil Island follows 15 Tasmanian devils as they are selected from Australian wildlife sanctuaries and then transported and released on remote Maria Island off the coast of Tasmania. Will they rediscover their instincts to hunt, mate and – hopefully – raise their own?
It’s a risky experiment. The devils are captive and hand-reared. They’ve never hunted, found shelter or fought off another predator. If they can fend for themselves, they might save their species.
But how will the island’s native wildlife cope with their fiesty ‘new neighbours from hell’? Endangered populations of Flinders Island wombats, Little Penguins, Forester kangaroos and Cape Barron geese must adapt to these new predators or their future, too, is at risk.
The series covers the devils first 9 months on the island and it’s soon revealed the devils have a secret mission. Without predators the numbers of feral cats and Brushtail possums have increased and they are devouring the small mammals and birdlife. When the devils arrive, there’s a new cop in town!
It’s a make-or-break year for 15 little devils as they fight for their survival and the survival of their species on Devil Island.