Devil Facial Tumour Disease

Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD)

Devil facial tumour disease is a debilitating cancer which invariably results in the death of infected animals. Infected devils were first detected in 1996 in the north east of Tasmania.

In the 13 years between 1992 and 2005, the numbers of devils being sighted spotlighting have decreased by up to 90 percent in some areas.

As at July 2007, it is estimated the disease has reached over 59% of Tasmania and some researchers estimate that devil numbers have plummeted from about 150,000 in 1992 to less than 20,000 in 2007.

Although there is no pre-tumour test for DFTD, this author has posed the question whether devil facial tumour disease might have contributed to the mainland extinction of Tasmanian devils.

For further reading, see the Devil Facial Tumour Disease website at the Department of Primary Industries and Water (Tasmania).