July 28, 2017

Riding the Devil’s Highway

knowler_cover_webTasmania might be known internationally as the home of the Hollywood cartoon character, Taz, based on the real-life Tasmanian devil, but the island state has another claim to fame. It is also the roadkill capital of the world, with one animal killed every two minutes on the bitumen, among them the endangered Tasmanian devil. With so much roadkill on view, Tasmanians joke ironically that perhaps a glass-bottomed bus tour should be added to the tourist itinerary and Donald Knowler takes up this theme to compile a field guide to what lies flattened on the bitumen.

Riding the Devil’s Highway is the result of a 10-year odyssey to explore the Tasmanian roadkill phenomenon, which during this time has seen Tasmanian devils not only dying in increasing numbers on the highways, but afflicted by a fearful contagious cancer that has decimated numbers by 90 per cent in some areas. The devil is the largest surviving marsupial carnivore and the author argues if measures already proven by researchers to be practical and cost-effective are not taken to reduce the roadkill toll, the devil may well follow the same road to extinction as the Tasmanian tiger.

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