Tasmanian devils are typically associated with their namesake island of Tasmania, but they have recently been reintroduced to mainland Australia for the first time. Three thousand years ago the animal died out on the mainland due to the arrival of dingoes, but now they’re being released into a 988-acre wildlife sanctuary north of Sydney.

Tim Faulkner, president of Aussie Ark, said, “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. 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.”

Only 25,000 wild Tasmanian devils are left in Tasmania, but Aussie Ark’s breeding program, which started with only 44 individuals and has 200 today, will hopefully help the species thrive again throughout Australia. As of September 10, the group has released 26 devils into the sanctuary in New South Wales. Two more reintroductions are also being planned, involving 20 devils each. It’s hoped that their presence on the mainland will help control feral cat and fox populations that hunt other endangered species.

Don Church, president of the Global Wildlife Conservation charity, said, “This is an incredible example of how to rewild our planet, bringing back the natural systems to the benefit of all life on Earth.”

Only 25,000 wild Tasmanian devils are left in Tasmania, and Aussie Ark hopes that expanding their habitat to the mainland will increase their chances of survival.