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Partnership Provides Boost for Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: October 24, 2021 1:59 am

Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat Partnership AWC

A northern hairy-nosed wombat exits its burrow in the Epping Forest National Park

Photo Credit: Courtesy Australian Wildlife Conservancy

The northern hairy-nosed wombat, one of Australia's rarest mammals will receive a boost following a new partnership being created by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES) and Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC).

Working to agreed recovery actions the partnership will help to bolster efforts to safeguard the species.

Northern-hairy nosed wombats are more endangered than popular conservation icons such as the giant panda. Giant pandas have an estimated population of 1,864 compared to just 300 for the northern hairy-nosed wombats.

The last natural stronghold of the species is in Epping Forest National Park in central Queensland, while a second population was established by DES in 2009 at the 130-hectare Richard Underwood Nature Refuge near St George in the south-west of the state.

DES Senior Conservation Officer, Dr Alan Horsup has been leading conservation efforts for the species over the past 30 years and said the hard work in the field had paid off.

"The northern hairy-nosed wombat needs all the help it can get. The species was close to extinction in the early 1980’s, with numbers as low as 35 in one last population at Epping Forest National Park,” Dr Horsup said.

In an encouraging sign numbers have begun to increase at both sites and soon the wombats may run out of space.

Dr Horsup explained, "The species’ recovery was initially slow but is now picking up pace with the Epping Forest population now estimated at 300 wombats, and a further 15 at Richard Underwood Nature Refuge. The partnership with AWC is very welcome."

As part of the new partnership the AWC will assist with some research and management including working with DES to scope out sites for further partnerships.

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Northern hairy nosed wombats are facing a range of threats as Dr. Horsup explained, “Major threats to the species are loss of habitat, predation from wild dogs, disease and climate change."

A major cause of their original decline was persecution due to a view that they were a pest. In 1884 more than a thousand were shot on a single property.

AWC Chief Science Officer, Dr John Kanowski said it was a privilege for AWC to be given an opportunity help conserve the species.

"Australian Wildlife Conservancy is thrilled to step up to help conserve the northern hairy-nosed wombat. We have decades of experience working with many of Australia’s most threatened mammal species; like Numbats, Woylies, and Bridled Nailtail Wallabies; and these wombats are even rarer still. Building on the excellent work that has been carried out by DES to date, it’s critical that we keep the population numbers heading in the right direction and work to establish some new sites in the next few years. We believe collaboration and partnership is key to success in conservation."

Northern hairy-nosed wombats are 1m (3.3ft) long and weigh in at 30kg (66lbs). They are the world's largest burrowing marsupial and one of their burrows had six entrances. Individuals have lived to over 30 years of age and mostly emerge at night to feed.

Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat Partnership AWC

A northern hairy-nosed wombat and her joey in the Epping Forest National Park

Photo Credit: Courtesy Australian Wildlife Conservancy

Learn more about Wombats here – Wombat Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about the Australian Wildlife Conservancy on their website – Australian Wildlife Conservancy

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