Twenty-eight healthy Tasmanian devils were introduced in 2012-13 to Maria Island, which previously had no animal population, to act as “insurance” against the species dying from the disease. facial tumors that had spread across the mainland.
Since then, the number has grown to over 100, but with tragic consequences for the local population of razorbills on the 44-square-mile island, who appear to have fallen victim to the devils’ voracious appetites.
The penguins, which once numbered 3,000 breeding pairs, have now disappeared from the island, according to BirdLife Tasmania, a conservation group.
The number of short-tailed shearwaters has also been “wiped out” since the introduction of the devils, according to an article published in the journal Biological Conservation last year.
“All the penguin colonies once nesting around the foreshore of Maria Island have disappeared because of the demons,” Eric Woehler, head of BirdLife Tasmania, told the Australian newspaper.
“Parks and rangers came out 18 months ago and haven’t found any penguins nesting in any of the previously known penguin colonies on the island.
“So the devils wiped out the penguins. It’s 100 percent. The shearwaters were also hammered.
He said there “seems to be a reluctance to let people know what’s going on.”