lies to the South of Eastern Australia. It has beautiful mountains, some of the best preserved virgin forests on earth, and a huge number of endemic species. Iconic species such as the tasmanian devil and the wombat are easily recognisable, but there are many other plants and animals living in Tassie’s wildernesses which don’t receive the recognition they deserve. Some of Tasmania’s rarest species include:
Orange Bellied Parrot
Unfortunately, the beautiful Orange bellied parrot is one of Australia’s most threatened bird species. There is an estimated 70 members of the species remaining in the wild, but these remain at a high risk of extinction in the near future. They survive in one tiny population, which all breed together at a site near Melaleuca. If you would like to help out with Orange bellied parrot conservation, the project is in need of more funding to continue working¹.
The Tasmanian Devil is one of the most well known animals on earth, and is often portrayed in popular media as a vicious creature – which is absolutely true! They are known for their spine-chilling cries, fierce temper and grumpy attitude. Although they were once found on mainland Australia, they are now confined to Tasmania. Unfortunately, a mystery tumor disease has spread through the population in the past few years, which has seen reduced devil numbers throughout the state. They live in a variety of different habitats, and are often the ecosystem’s top predator².
According to the IUCN Red List, the spotted handfish is critically endangered. It is found in coastal waters from two to thirty meters deep, and is characterised by its unique appearance. It has unusual fins which are adapted to act like legs, allowing the fish to ‘walk’ across the sea floor. It is only found in the Derwent River estuary, just south of Hobart³.
This tiny species of land snail is endemic to Tasmania and occurs only in the Hobart area. It has a small, very flat shell which is usually yellow to greyish in colour. It occurs in a variety of forest habitats, but seems to prefer living under dolerite rocks. The only two known populations occupy a tiny 2 hectares of land. There may be as few as 200 individuals of the species left in the wild, which are still threatened by urban sprawl, fires, and land clearing⁴.
The cave cricket, also known as the Southern Sandstone Cave Cricket, is also endemic to a tiny region in Tasmania. Their known range covers a small area south of Hobart, but very little is known about the species. They are listed as critically endangered, and a lot more research needs to be done to determine the extent of the threats that they face and the actual likelihood of them going extinct⁵.
There are a staggering thirteen different species of burrowing crayfish which are endemic to Tasmania. Two of these are listed as endangered, and are threatened by a range of human processes. They live in muddy riverbanks, swamps, and marshes. As their name suggests, they are specialized to live in large tunnel networks, only venturing out at night. They are not well adapted to swimming or living in open water, which means they have smaller tails than most other crayfish⁶.