After 3,000 years, Tasmanian devils are returning to Australian mainland

The conservation program has reintroduced a total of 26 devils to mainland Australia.

(CNN)Eleven Tasmanian devils have been reintroduced to mainland Australia, more than 3,000 years after they died out there.

The carnivorous marsupials have been released into a 400-hectare (988-acre) wildlife sanctuary north of Sydney, New South Wales, Australian NGO Aussie Ark said in a statement.
"In 100 years, we are going to be looking back at this day as the day that set in motion the ecological restoration of an entire country," said Tim Faulkner, president of Aussie Ark.
    "Not only is this the reintroduction of one of Australia's beloved animals, but of an animal that will engineer the entire environment around it, restoring and rebalancing our forest ecology after centuries of devastation from introduced foxes and cats and other invasive predators."
    Tasmanian devils died out on the mainland after the arrival of dingoes and were restricted to the island of Tasmania. However, their numbers suffered another blow from a contagious form of cancer known as Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD), which has killed around 90% of the population since it was discovered in 1996.
    There are now just 25,000 wild devils left in Tasmania, and Aussie Ark has been working to conserve the species for the past 10 years.
    The team released the 11 devils on September 10, following an earlier trial involving 15 of the marsupials, which means 26 Tasmanian devils now live in mainland Australia.