In celebration of Australia Day on Thursday, January 26, World Soccer Shop is releasing a limited edition Tasmanian Devil soccer jersey with proceeds going to the Save the Tasmanian Devil Foundation. Soccer365 takes a look at why this famous little carnivore is the center of the attention.
Oh Taz, You Devil
“Taz Hungry”- For most of us, the Looney Tunes is a reminder of our childhood. Characters such as Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fud, Speedy Gonzales and the Road Runner bring back memories and continue to change the lives of many young children.
There was one more character, the memorable Tasmanian Devil, Taz. Best described as the youngest of the Looney Tunes, he is often portrayed as a dim-witted teenager with a short temper and little in the way of patience. With an insatiable hunger, he will eat anything and everything. And of course, the famous spin and his speech which mostly consists of growls and screeches.
A far cry from the witty character portrayed in Looney Tunes, the truth is that the Tasmanian Devil population found on a small island off the coast of Australia is in dire trouble.
The ‘Devil’ Inside
These Tasmanian mascots, the world’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial, is facing danger in the form of Devil Facial Tumour Disease. Best described as a transmissible cancer passed from one devil to another through close contact- with the larger problem being that their bodies do not reject the live tumour cells since they do not recognize them as foreign cells.
The disease has been confirmed across much of Tasmania and a drastic decline of populations have become evident through trapping systems as well as annual spotlight counts.
The very first Tasmanian Devil spotted with then “unknown tumours” on its face was in 1996 in the north-east region. In this particular area, there has been a 95% decline in average sightings. The standard response to DFTD, following studies of diseased populations have shown a loss of population abundance, loss of older age classes and females breeding approximately two years before their mature age. Not only can these effects be seen in the daily lives of the Tasmanian Devils, but the severe changes in population have also had numerous effects on the ecosystem of the island.
Following concerns of these declining numbers, Save the Tasmanian Devil Foundation was founded in 2003, with the full support of both Australian and Tasmanian governments. The program works in 5 year plans and is now in the third phase. With distinct purposes set forth, the foundation has already made severe strides in the conservation of the Tasmanian devil.
Stage 1 was aimed at characterizing the emerging disease- this was completed successfully as they were able to identify the unusual nature of the disease as well as the means of transmission. During the 2nd stage, focus shifted to establishing an insurance population to secure them from extinction, monitor the disease and develop facilities for holding the creatures in both wild and semi-wild populations.
Once more, the foundation had prospered in their mission. As the 2nd phase culminated, they had established an effective insurance population, along with tracking and annual monitoring of the disease.
Now in the 3rd phase, the major aim is to develop the Wild Devil Recovery to maintain the insurance population, establish disease free populations in the wild and develop techniques for managing diseased populations.
Australians both young and old have joined the cause in various ways; the Foundation boasts a ‘Kids Club,’ where youngsters can raise money at school as well as external fundraising. Other avenues include street art of the Tasmanian Devils to encourage slower driving in areas where large numbers end up as road kill as well as an annual ‘Taste of Tasmania’; an expensive dinner where a large part of the proceeds are donated to the foundation for research, monitoring and eventually, a safe return to the wild.
Save the Tasmanian Devil Soccer Jersey
And to help raise awareness and funds for the plight of the Tasmanian Devil as well as celebrate Australia Day, World Soccer Shop released a limited edition Save the Tasmanian Devil soccer jersey. All Proceeds from the sale of the jersey go to the Save the Tasmanian Devil Foundation.
The navy blue jersey with black crew collar is inspired by the flag of Australia. A 2-tone Union Jack is represented on the sleeves and the Southern Cross sits on the right chest. The coat of arms of Tasmania, the island off Australia native to the animal, sits over the heart on the left chest.
The Save the Tasmanian Devil logo is printed across the chest.
This rare jersey will be available for purchase starting on Wednesday, January 25 while supplies last.