Image: Chen Wu
A characteristic Tasmanian devil ‘yawn’
But Baars didn’t see a single Tasmanian devil during his first night in the blind and saw barely any the following night. This was the first indication that something might be wrong. The first sign of a serious problem, however, was when Baars spotted a Tasmanian devil with a weird disfigurement on its face: a strange, lumpy, tumor-like growth.
The photographs Baars took of the afflicted animal in early 1996 are the first known recordings of a disease now termed devil facial tumor disease (DFTD). As of January 2013, the disease has killed 80 percent of the Australian island’s Tasmanian devil population. Will Tasmanian devils thus become the latest in a long list of extinct animals?