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Why Do Wombats Need Protection?


Lack of Legislative Protection/Enforcement.

In Australia native animals are “the property of the Crown”. This means that no-one owns wombats, they can’t be kept as pets and to do anything with them you have to be licensed by government departments.

Government Departments do little to protect or help wombats. Most research and all welfare (rescuing injured wombats, raising the joeys of mothers killed in collisions with vehicles, removing wombats from unsuitable places) is undertaken by voluntary organizations.

While penalties exist if someone is found to hurt or kill a wombat, the same government departments charged with wombat care issue permits to farmers to cull wombats. Sadly, there is often no check whether this is necessary, whether it is done humanely or any insistence that alternative options be employed before issuing such permits.

On the other hand although penalties exist for the illegal killing of wombats, such killing occurs every night where on a farms they are shot, buried alive and gassed and on the highways of Australia vehicles indiscriminately drive directly at wombats without penalty.

Live joeys left in their dead mother’s pouches die slowly and a lack of public education means few Australians understand how to rescue a joey still living after its mother falls victim to road kill.



Lack Of Research

The failure by all Australian Federal State and Local Governments to adequately research and protect wombats from such fates in the areas where they remain combined with Government sanctioned logging practices in forests (which see their burrows ripped up and logging trucks on the road at night when wombats come out to eat), lead to multiple wombat deaths. All these practices and failures continue today.

At the same time, there are few behavioral studies undertaken to help people understand why wombats do what they do. They will go under a fence in one spot and back through the fence the other way less than a metre from the first spot (they follow scent trails but can learn to use wombat gates).

Many farmers and others who resort to unnecessary cruelty do so because they aren’t assisted manage problem issues like burrow digging near infrastructure. Research into wombat behavior is unfunded. There are no incentives or subsidies for people to set aside appropriate habitat for wombats Lack of research and education causes these incredibly beautiful, harmless nocturnal marsupials to be misunderstood and not appreciated for their important role in the Australian ecology.



Human Impact and Disease

Human impact on the wombat population is now at a critical level. Wombats suffer from a disease called mange that was introduced to Australia and to wombats by human activity. Mites that cause mange lead to deep skin fissures that become flyblown and septic. This leads to a long, slow and painful death for wombats. In addition they are also being affected by a fungal lung disease for which there is currently no cure. Diseases and viruses brought in by farming activity now affect wombats. Incidents of coccidia, clostridium perfringens and tetanus amongst others ,are evident in wombats. Some people believe that the distribution of mange is so widespread that only isolated populations and those tended in sanctuaries will, in the long term survive.

It is only recently that Veterinarians have begun to receive training in dealing with native animal health. Behavioural studies on wombats are few and limited in their scope. As a result wombats are misunderstood and those attempting to rear and rehabilitate injured and orphaned wombats have difficulty getting them appropriate medical attention and in helping others understand the best ways of living with wombats.

Habitat destruction is having a major impact on wombat numbers as well. Water sources and grazing areas being fenced into farms and out of public lands limits the suitable range for wombats to a small strip of land. Although Australia is a big country there are few areas where wombats can live undisturbed. They are restricted to a small section of the east coast of Australia. Unless they are fully protected their limited distribution will reduce further. This is already evident in the northern Hairy Nose Wombat whose numbers are so low that the species is severely threatened and without human intervention will become extinct.


What You Can Do ?

You can give permission to include your name and contact details for the Register of environmental organizations.

You can spread the word about the society and elect to be sent email updates that you can share with interested parties who don’t have computer access.

You can help by volunteering particular skills you have. You can contribute pictures, information and references to resources that can help those involved in the care and protection of wombats.

You can assist by helping to develop the children’s involvement by suggesting web based activities, games and fundraising ideas suitable for children. (This is something that the webmaster is presently struggling with. Please contact the webmaster directly if you can support the society in this way.)

You can put anyone you know who might be interested in sponsoring or bequeathing a legacy, in contact with the Society.





Bare-Nosed Wombat... sleeping
Courtesy L Dennis











Wombat foot



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Wombat Protection Society Australia Limited
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