Sighting the Tasmanian Devil

This week, we've ended up in the Tarkine region of Tasmania. We've been very fortunate to have been invited to use the land of Geoff King, who runs 'Kings Run Wildlife tours'.

Geoff is a lovely man, full of interesting stories about the land that has been in his family for generations (although the land private, it is part of the Arthur-Pieman Conservation area which is currently seeking world heritage listing), and he took us on a tour to see midden's created by ancient aboriginal people. Our little camper van is situated in a region near the coast line (which is very beautiful) and each night we've noticed that we have a Wombat as a neighbour. Each night the wombat comes out to eat his grass and just hang out. We've also seen a Tiger Snake during the day, which I've been informed is not the kind of snake you'd want to get close to. There have also been echidna's, wallabies. Quite a lot of wildlife as it has turned out.

But the highlight of the week for me has been the sighting of four Tasmanian Devils. They are nocturnal in nature, and are believed to be about 500 of them left in the wild now. Geoff runs tours, to show people them on his land. He was very generous and set up a lighting rig with some recent road kill near a vantage point for us so we might have a chance to see a Devil or two. Well, we switched on the light just after sunset (Devils are known to come out to feed just after sunset), and we came back about an hour later. While we were approaching the location we could heard the sound of bones being cracked and we knew we were in luck - there was a Devil feasting on the road kill.

We sat for maybe around 40 minutes and watched four Devils take their pecking order at feasting on the road kill. One of the Devils had white spots on its black coat while another had white stripes. They were extremely sensitive to sound and occasionally we would scare them off by our movement. Each time they retuned after maybe fifteen minutes of waiting, to continue feasting.

I'm no wildlife photographer, so what we did shoot of the Devils, isn't really up to much (why I didn't leave home without that 600mm f2.8, I'll never know ;-) but it was certainly something I'll never forget.

If you do venture to Tasmania, do consider coming up to see Geoff King's location. The landscape here is quite stunning and his tour I believe, is unique. I think he's sold out pretty much in advance.

Oh and yes, Tassie Devils do exist. Just look them up on Wikipedia. They are an endangered carnivorous marsupial, and they are rapidly dying out because of a contagious mouth cancer. There was until perhaps 60 years ago, a Tasmanian Tiger, but that was hunted to extinction. I hope that the Devil has a better future ahead of itself.

Postscript, the day after I wrote this blog posting, we sighted two Tasmanian Devil juveniles, on our way out of Geoff's land. We were told later on that it's often possible to see babies in the summer months, when they are extremely hungry. The photo that now accompanies this posting was made from our campervan, with a Galaxy SII mobile phone (I'm no wildlife photographer!), but I hope you enjoy the picture anyway and can appreciate perhaps how special the sightings were for us.