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Of all the reasons to visit Australia, wildlifeis the most compelling. Tasmania, a southern island state, has some of the most diverse and unique wildlife.

For many people who visit Australia, wildlife is high on the list of motivations. Even compared to the rest of the country, nature lovers who visit the southern island state of Tasmania will discover a unique and very special place. Its magnificent accessible wilderness areas even sustain some species that are extinct (or close to it) on the mainland.

With a spectacularly beautiful and diverse terrain, this relatively small island's landscape (encompassing 68,401km2) is for the most part protected, and ranges from the chilly altitudes of Mount Wellington, to windy Bruny Island, the Freycinet Peninsula, Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park and the pristine Franklin-Gordon Wild River.

In this lovely place, amidst some of the most unspoiled parts of Australia, wildlife lovers will encounter a host of fascinating species.

The Mammals

The infamous Tasmanian Tigers and Tasmanian Devils are quite often familiar to wildlife aficionados; however, some of the other endemic species are not so high profile. Throughout Australia, wildlife includesthe marsupials (pouched mammals) and Tasmania is no different; among the marsupials that may be seen here are the Pademelon, Bettong, and Eastern Quoll.

The Eastern Quoll prefers a dry, grassy habitat, but is also found in alpine and forested areas. The nocturnal Pademelon (which looks somewhat like a short, stocky wallaby) thrives in wet rainforests and can be found all over the state. The much smaller Bettong lives in the dry forests and grasslands of the eastern half of the state, but it usually only comes out to forage for food under the cover of darkness.

Other species that may be seen in places like Mount Field National Park, Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park and the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers include Echidnas, Wallabies, Wombats, Platypus and Tasmanian Devils.

Avifauna

Among its many species of birds, Tasmania has 12 endemic and a number of threatened species that can be seen around Mount Wellington, the Freycinet Peninsula and Bruny Island.

Endemics: The dozen endemic species are not even found elsewhere in Australia. These are the Forty-spotted Pardalote, Tasmanian native hen, Strong-billed, Black-headed and Yellow-throated Honeyeaters,Scrubtit, Tasmanian Scrubwren, Tasmanian Thornbill, Green Rosella, Dusky Robin, Black Currawong and Yellow Wattlebird.

Among the endangered species are the breeding endemics – including Swift and Orange-bellied Parrots - that only breed in Tasmania but migrate to the mainland of Australia, and the Tasmanian Wedge-tail Eagle, an endemic subspecies.

The Bruny Island coastline is also home to a proliferation of seabirds, including theShort-tailed Shearwaters (also known as the mutton bird), and the delightful Fairy (or Little Blue) Penguins, one of the true characters of nature. They are the smallest penguins in the world, only growing to around 40cms high.

Tasmania's Unique Natural History

Separated from the rest of Australia, Tasmania is endowed with a unique natural history, which has been evolving since the Ice Age. Its dramatic, wild landscape is an attraction in itself , but the opportunity to encounter the vast array of flora and fauna is both an adventure and a privilege.




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