Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Second Woe of the Wombat

Wombats are probably my favourite native Australian animal. They dig in soil to make their homes. They have cute noses and whiskers. And they are mysterious; hiding in their burrows, and sometimes difficult to find. They are the largest soil moving mammals in Australia, and are an important part of our ecosystem.

I definitely have a soft spot for the Wombat; especially as it is a creature of soil. 

Wombat, via Wikipedia

I was very sad to hear that the Southern Hairy-Nose Wombat are under threat due to lack of feed and weeds, with a decline of 70-80% in the Murraylands of South Australia. I was listening to Radio National's Bush Telegraph program about the plight of one of my favourite creatures in the South Australian region, likely linked to drought. 

The Wombat Awareness Organisation (WAO) is concerned about drought, lack of feed, and weeds causing wombat malnutrition, lack of condition, and ultimately the death of the wombat. They are worried that there are thousands of wombats affected in South Australia. Researchers have identified a range of problems related to the condition and death of wombats, including toxic plants (potato weed) causing liver damage, changes in land management, compromised immune responses and diseases. Researchers said, however, that there are many complexities to the problem and more research is required. 

Southern Hairy-Nose Wombat, via Wikipedia

The WAO has found that wombats health improves after eating straw. They are wanting to get Government approval to place straw as a feed source in locations where there are affected wombats. Researchers would like a strategic approach to helping the wombats, including a monitoring program to determine if it the straw is helping the wombats. 

I hope that WAO and researchers are able to find a way to improve the conditions for the wombats, whether it be through food placement, altered land management practices where possible (such as control of weeds and improved feed), or looking into more wombat care centres. 

If you want to know more, or get involved, you can contact WAO and their Drought Relief Project or listen to the Bush Telegraph program. I have also previously written about wombats and mange, which affects wombats in South Eastern Australia (NSW, SA and Victoria). 


  1. Hi Jess

    I couldn't find a follow button here or join tab which connects the blog list automatically, did I miss it ?

    Thanks, Kevin