QUEENSLAND Environment Department scientists are celebrating the birth of a northern hairy-nosed wombat – one of the world’s rarest creatures.
The endangered nocturnal marsupial has been filmed following its mum out of her burrow at the Richard Underwood Nature Refuge near St George in grain and cattle country in south-west Queensland.
Like all kids, the baby wombat is a bit silly, bumping into its mum and charging in and out of the burrow entrance.
With the help of graziers Ed and Gabriele Underwood and miner Glencoe, scientists set up the fenced reserve about a decade ago in a move to save the species from natural occurrences like flood, fire or disease.
Decimated by the impact of competition from grazing animals, wombat numbers fell to only 138 in the species remaining colony in central Queensland’s Epping Forest National Park near Clermont.
The wombats had previously been found across large parts of Queensland and NSW.
Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the birth brought the number of northern hairy-nosed wombats a the St George colony to 12.
“The birth of this joey – whose gender hasn’t been discovered yet – is a real cause for celebration,” she said.
“The northern hairy-nosed wombat is one of the world’s rarest mammals and the only known colonies are here in Queensland.
“Each birth increases the chances of survival … of this species.”
Scientists introduced supplementary feeding and water which saw the Epping population increase to about 250.
“The small, but protected population at the Richard Underwood Nature Refuge helps assure the species’ survival should any event impact on the numbers of northern hairy-nosed wombats at Epping,” Ms Enoch said.
“The refuge is predator-proof, with fencing, water stations and wildlife monitoring equipment all on hand to protect and monitor these enigmatic native animals.”
“...The Underwood family’s generosity in allowing part of their property to be used as a nature refuge has played a key role in the recovery of this wombat species.
“We recognise there is also a need for a third breeding colony to further protect these precious species.
“...Experts are currently conducting habitat modelling and will work with the Wombat Foundation to identify suitable locations.”
Ms Enoch said the joey that had emerged from its mother’s pouch was believed to have been born about September last year.