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Tarkine Devils to be studied by bushwalkers -

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Scientists haven't been able to do a full survey of the last disease free devils living in the
remote Tarkine region of Tasmania - but a bushwalking company is about to fill in the blanks.
They'll be using remote sensing cameras to take photos of the devils that will be sent back to
scientists at the University of Tasmania in Hobart.

TONY EASTLEY: Bushwalkers are about to become field researchers in a plan to study Tasmanian devils
in the remote Tarkine region in the north-west of the state.

The area is one of the last wild places where Tasmanian devils haven't been infected with a deadly
and extremely contagious facial cancer. Because the Tarkine region is so remote, scientists don't
know much about the healthy devils that live there, but they are hoping to change that with some
help.

Felicity Ogilvie reports.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The forests and coastal areas of the Tarkine region in Tasmania's north-west are
home to the state's last stronghold of healthy devils.

But the remoteness of the area has stopped scientists like Menna Jones from studying the devils
that live in the Tarkine.

MENNA JONES: We know that they're there because we have seen records of them. We don't have an
appreciation for the kinds of habitats that they live in in remote wilderness areas and we don't
know anything about how big their populations are.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Dr Jones is about to get her questions answered by an unlikely group of
researchers. A bushwalking company and a wildlife park have organised a way to find out how many
devils are living in the Tarkine.

(Sound of a growling Tasmanian devil)

The devil's movements will be caught and captured in pictures that will be taken by 45 motion
sensing cameras.

Tarkine Trails guide Mark Davis is setting up the cameras.

MARK DAVIS: We basically don the hat of a field researcher and what they means is every single one
of the walks that we run has an allocated amount of cameras along that walk and what we can do is
basically replace the data cards. We can pull the data off the camera i.e. the photos, load it into
a lap top as we walk.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The photos will be sent back to Hobart to be analysed by scientists like Menna
Jones at the University of Tasmania.

MENNA JONES: I suspect we won't find them in wet forest but we will gain an appreciation of maybe
how important the coastal strips are to devil populations.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The scientists may be in for some surprises because Mark Davis says he's seen
devils in the rainforest.

MARK DAVIS: I've seen half a dozen devils in broad daylight during the time that I've been walking
out here. In contrast to the Tarkine coast walk that we run, yes, far less.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The project has been organised by Karl Mathiesen from the Bonorong Wildlife Park
in Hobart.

KARL MATHIESEN: My hope at the end of the day for this research is just that we start to get a
picture of what's out there and that helps with the management of the disease.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Scientists think one reason why the facial tumour disease hasn't reached the
Tarkine is because devils on the West Coast may have some kind of natural immunity to the disease.

The idea of genetic immunity to the cancer originated from research that was done on a captive West
Coast devil called Cedric - an animal whose story we followed on AM for several years.

TONY EASTLEY: Felicity Ogilvie reporting there.