December 17, 2008

Tasmanian devils dying of cancer

Australian scientists said they've suffered a setback in their effort to save Tasmanian devils from extinction in the wild.

A Tasmanian devil called Cedric had shown a strong antibody response to a deadly facial cancer that is killing the marsupials, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday. It had been hoped that his offspring would also be safe from infection.

Cedric, however, has now fallen ill with the disease.

It was very deflating, very, very disappointing. But we move on, and we have learned a lot from him so far. Greg Woods of the University of Tasmania told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Hamish McCallum, the senior scientist in charge of the Devil Facial Tumor Disease program, said the team will work to find another devil that is able to resist the disease.

From the very beginning of this program we have known that there would be no quick fixes for the devil -- this is a complex disease which will take a complexity of science and sophisticated and targeted wildlife management strategies to tackle, he said.