(Cradle Mountain Part 7 – 18 Photos) –
After our long hike, we visited “Devil’s @ Cradle” wildlife park where they have breeding programs for the now endangered Tasmanian Devil, rare Spotted-Tailed Quolls and Eastern Quolls.
Tasmania, once called Van Diemen’s Land – The Devil’s Land, home of the Tasmanian Devil! Perhaps your familiar with Warner Bros. depiction of our native carnivorous marsupial? The real thing is NOTHING like that!
After an informative tour, we had the entire park to ourselves! The light wasn’t the best for moving wildlife, so I had the camera set on Pro capture with a high stutter speed, high ISO and rattled off countless shots as we wandered around. Most of these are edited from RAW files. Here’s some of my favourites which display some of their behaviours.
Despite having one of the most powerful jaws on the planet for it’s body weight, Devils are mostly scavengers – but they will also hunt. They’re adequate all-rounders at most things, like swimming, climbing trees etc. but not the best at anything.
The size of a small dog, the Tasmanian devil became the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world following the extinction of the thylacine in 1936. It is related to quolls and distantly related to the thylacine. It is characterised by its stocky and muscular build, black fur, pungent odour, extremely loud and disturbing screech, keen sense of smell, and ferocity when feeding.
They have a fairly big range of overlapping territories up to 25 km and usually travel between several dens – My neighbour and night walking friend Evan has one visit under his house occasionally, making a racket for a day or two before moving on … so far anyway.
Tasmanian Devils were hunted and became endangered in Tasmania because they were seen as a threat to livestock and fur-bearing wild animals.
In 1941, devils became officially protected, and since then, scientists have contended that earlier concerns over the threat to livestock were overestimated and misplaced. Since the late 1990s, the devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) has drastically reduced the population and now threatens the survival of the species, which in 2008 was declared to be endangered.
The Eastern Quoll was once widespread in south-east Australia, has been extinct on the mainland since the 1960s.
Quolls generally shelter in dens during the day and hunt alone at night. They’re generalist, opportunistic carnivores – in other words, they eat a wide variety of foods, as long as it’s meat!
The Spotted-Tailed Quoll are Near Threatened according to by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Where they remain, quolls use a wide range of habitats. They live in coastal heathlands, sub-alpine woodlands, temperate woodlands and forests, riparian forests and wet sclerophyll forests.
The Spotted-tailed Quoll can eat medium-sized birds and mammals, such as possums and rabbits.
Most quolls have short life-spans, generally living only 2 to 4 years in the wild (longer in captivity). They have an extraordinary mating system, in which most reproduction occurs in the first year of life.
The following images are of wild animals taken after our visit to the park.
The Tasmanian subspecies or Red-necked Wallaby, (Macropus rufogriseus rufogriseus), usually known as Bennett’s wallaby, is smaller, has longer, darker and shaggier fur, and breeds in the late summer, mostly between February and April. They have adapted to living in proximity to humans and can be found grazing on lawns in the fringes of Hobart and other urban areas. Their numbers have expanded over the past 30 years because of a reduction in hunting pressure and the partial clearing of forest to result in a mosaic of pastures where wallabies can feed at night, alongside bushland where they can shelter by day.
There are three main types of wombat and of those, only one sub-species of the Common Wombat (Vombatus ursinus tasmaniensis) lives on the Tasmanian mainland. The common wombat is the largest burrowing herbivorous mammal, but the Tasmanian Wombat is not as large or bulky, averaging 85 cm in length and 20 kg in weight. The closest relative of the wombat is, in fact, the koala.
Burrows can be up to 20 m long and more than 2 m below the ground, and have numerous connecting tunnels and entrances.
Common wombats are herbivorous, subsisting on grass, snow tussocks, and other plant materials. Foraging is usually done during the night. They are the only marsupial in the world whose teeth constantly grow which allows them to maintain a diet consisting of mainly native grasses.
The rump of the wombat is covered by a very tough, thick skin. If threatened, a wombat will dive into a nearby burrow or hollow log, using its rump as protection from the teeth and claws of its attacker. The wombat is also capable of crushing attackers against the burrow roof. Their natural enemies are Tasmanian devils and eagles, while no doubt the thylacine once preyed upon them.
After getting close to these wild wombats to get these shots, I discovered the following while researching:
“Humans can receive puncture wounds from wombat claws, as well as bites. Startled wombats can also charge humans and bowl them over, with the attendant risks of broken bones from the fall. One naturalist, Harry Frauca, once received a bite 2 cm (0.8 in) deep into the flesh of his leg—through a rubber boot, trousers and thick woollen socks. A UK newspaper, The Independent, reported that on 6 April 2010, a 59-year-old man from rural Victoria state was mauled by a wombat (thought to have been angered by mange), causing a number of cuts and bite marks requiring hospital treatment. He resorted to killing it with an axe.” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wombat
There’s one final post to come from our Cradle Mountain adventure and I don’t think you will be disappointed. An absolutely magical misty morning stroll in a King Billy Pine forest – one of the best photographic experienced I’ve ever had! If you don’t believe in faeries, you soon will, for surely this is where they dwell!
Be sure to come back – for something extra special.